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Five Trends We Can See From Examining the 2010 1to1 Customer Champions – Part 5

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series on the trends we are observing among the 1to1 Customer Champions with respect to their efforts to build a customer-focused culture.

Part four of this series focused on how to leverage our employees in the action-taking process. Taking action is critical because it provides an ROI to your customers for the time investment they made to share their feelings and perceptions with you. It is also important, as taking action is the only way that we can trace the impact of our actions from a financial perspective.

The challenge that most organizations have – particularly in this challenging economic environment – is that resources are more scarce than usual. This means that firms are more likely to be short-staffed, so adding work to an already full list is a recipe to have our efforts to take action fall flat.

The key? We have to make the insights from customers relevant, easy-to-understand, and linked to the day-to-day work of all associates. How can customer loyalty practitioners manage this? This brings us to the next trend we are seeing among the 1to1 Customer Champions.

Trend #5: New (or Enhanced) Tools are Available

The 1to1 Customer Champions remind us of the tools that are available for us to leverage in our customer-focus efforts; some of these are new, while others represent the latest version/evolution of tried-and-true tools:

a)      CRM integration – The investments that firms have made over the last decade or so in the area of CRM are starting to show payoff – from a customer knowledge perspective, being able to link customer demographics/profiling information and actual behavior data to survey metrics creates the opportunity for more robust customer intelligence.

The impact of CRM integration is twofold – first, it provides a data infrastructure into which program findings can be warehoused; second, it can provide a myriad of other data that can be used in segmentation exercises. This provides a more credible framework within which to articulate ROI (for example, by using actual customer purchase behavior in lieu of a survey-based question around intended behavior).

b)      More powerful predictive modeling – The ability to integrate other data streams into customer survey data would be for naught without the ability to build sophisticated models. The computing technology available today means that analytic approaches that were either highly theoretical or too mathematically challenging even ten years ago are now accessible.

 

c)       Social media and text analytics – The newest tools that are emerging include data from social media sources coupled with the rapidly-advancing discipline of text analytics. The ability to harness these non-structured data sources is beginning to add incremental value to our customer analysis efforts; there is clearly more to come on this front.

These tools represent, in my opinion, a “data enhancer” rather than a wholesale replacement to current data streams – that is, they provide additional insight that can bring further clarity to the more traditional quantitative analysis.

What are the common threads of these tools? First, they leverage the latest technology; many of these tools and techniques were simply pipedreams a few years ago. Second, they recognize that data from disparate sources can and should be leveraged in a variety of ways. Finally, they offer to streamline processes that historically have been challenging (I can recall, for example, a time in my career when it was not uncommon for a customer list to be written on a sheet of paper vs. having a consolidated file of data). Streamlining these processes creates capacity for practitioners – for example, by eliminating time spent data-entering customer records and managing multiple customer data sources, we can work on more strategic initiatives – such as making customer information relevant, easy to understand and integrated into the everyday workflow process of all employees.

In my final blog of this series, I will discuss what outcomes that the 1to1 Champions will enjoy as a result of their efforts and will provide some recommendations on what steps you can take to ensure that your firm is seen as a customer-focused organization.

Mark A. Ratekin
Sr. Vice President, Consulting Services

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