data visualization from space
Customers today are entrenched in interactive, visual data. And companies that don't deliver will be left behind. PHOTO: NASA

Often, when we read about mobile engagement and analytics, the conversation focuses on collecting and analyzing customer data to better understand needs and deliver memorable customer experiences. 

But companies in the know are looking at the flip side — how to best provide customers with relevant insights and data that they can consume and explore on their own.

According to an Aberdeen Group report, organizations using mobile features like data analytics, among others, see greater customer and user satisfaction, and are three times more likely to rapidly deploy new experiences and services. But popping up a boring spreadsheet or a static chart on your customer’s smart phone won’t cut it.

From zooming in on their favorite sports stats to drilling down into last month’s spending, today’s customers are entrenched in interactive, visual data. And companies that don’t deliver are going to be left behind.

“Customers are increasingly demanding better user experiences,” said Rajesh Kamath, head of financial services solutions and incubation at Incedo, a San Francisco Bay Area-headquartered IT consulting firm.

“They have been spoiled by the exceptional experience that modern devices can deliver to them, and visualization can be one way in which enterprises can meet this expectation.”

The Rise of Visual Customer-Facing Analytics

Analytics continue to be a critical factor in delivering impactful customer experiences. According to the Temkin Group, businesses consider customer insights and analytics as the most important customer experience areas for 2017.

In addition, companies believe that embedding analytics into their customer-facing apps can help them attract more customers, increase market share, and boost the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell to existing customers, notes a separate Aberdeen report. The report adds that software vendors are incorporating features like interactive visualization “to make their solutions ‘stickier’ and more powerful for their users, thus setting them apart from their competition.”

why embed analytics - chart from the aberdeen group
PHOTO: The Aberdeen Group

Kamath has seen how analytics solutions have impacted their customers, especially those enhanced by visual tools. He notes that one client, an electronic payments solution provider, provides customers with a data visualization tool that tracks customer key metrics, such as adoption of new channels and cost of service. Not only was the solution provider able to use the visualization tool to help their customers manage their business better, but they now use that tool as a competitive differentiator.

Starting with Interactive Data Visualization

Rajesh Kamath
Rajesh Kamath
Kamath offers some key pieces of advice for businesses interested in incorporating analytics and interactive visualization into their customer-facing apps.

Think user experience and data first, visualization technology second. Before diving in to design customer-facing dashboards and reports, said Kamath, be sure to involve user experience design experts early on, in the requirements phase. This gives you a better shot at creating a positive experience for your customers and keep them coming back.

Design for a mobile-first experience. The Temkin Group report notes that web and mobile will continue to be the most important customer experience channels in 2017, so mobile-first is sound advice, regardless of the design technology you use.

Try new approaches to visualization. Kamath recommends experimenting with technologies like natural language generation (NLG), a feature Gartner said will become standard in 90 percent of business intelligence (BI) and analytics solutions by 2019. NLG provides a written or spoken narrative alongside data visualization to make it easier to gather insights, opening analytics up to a broader audience.

View visualization design as an iterative process. Make use of focus groups and pilot rollouts, said Kamath, to determine what works for customers before rolling out to your complete user base.

Look across industries for design and functional inspiration. Whether a pharmaceutical company or software vendor, don’t be afraid to look to apps like Fitbit, Credit Karma or Moven to help in your own app design.

One last thing, said Kamath: Design doesn’t mean much if the data and insights you provide aren’t meaningful.

“Easy, elegant ways of viewing data are an imperative for creating an impactful customer experience. Of course, all this assumes that the business is delivering actual business value to the customer, and not just a fancy dashboard.”