This month as we examine the different ways that big data fits into marketing, we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the ways big data can help improve the customer experience. It seems obvious, but with so much data it's hard to know what exactly to look for or how to put data into action.

Use Customer Analytics to Your Advantage

Like any marketing initiative it's important to understand why you're using big data. What exactly do you hope to accomplish? When it comes to the customer experience, there are many components that make up a successful program.

First, it's important to know where customer information currently lives and who needs access to it and how it can be shared seamlessly.

Secondly, customer trends need to be identified. Which touch points are used the most? Which lead to the most purchases? Which have the highest rates of customer satisfaction? When you know what's working well, you can help to establish benchmarks for the services that may be underperforming.

Lastly, look for where customer complaints are most prevalent. Identify the weaknesses as well as strengths for each touch point. 

By understanding what's currently working and what needs work, businesses can put big data to work where it's needed most. It's unrealistic to expect that big data can improve all areas of customer service at the onset, so it's critical to set priorities so that overtime, all touch points can be improved to meet specific criteria. 

Learning Opportunities

Get to Know Your Targeted Audience

You probably know a lot about your customers already, but unless you're putting all the information together, it may not mean much and it won't help you improve how you interact with them. By combining longitudinal knowledge about the customer -- that is the long term history of customer behavior, which is usually institutional but not necessarily documented -- with the online behaviors of current and prospective customers and advanced customer demographics can you really get to know your customers. Most likely, certain trends will emerge and you'll notice patterns that can help create or update personas.

Just as messages are created and finely tuned to match their interests, businesses should also develop engagement strategies based on the online behaviors and demographics of a specific audience. For example, analytics might show you that women, 24 - 40 years old living in metropolitan areas are more likely to visit your site or access emails from a mobile device. Knowing this can help you refine email marketing campaigns or streamline the online checkout process. 

Let Customer Analytics Tells a Story

Once you've identified the areas that can benefit from advanced customer analytics the most, established clear goals for improving the customer experience and learned more about how your customers behave and engage, a story should start to emerge. By developing a 360 degree view of each customer or customer segment, businesses can think of the customer experience as chapters in the customer journey. As a result, the customer experience becomes a series of connections and consequences, rather than than just an isolated incident. 

Using big data to improve the customer experience doesn't have to be just a theoretical exercise. While each business must decide which metrics to measure and what benchmarks to set, it's possible to develop a strategy that can effectively identify and improve critical customer experience issues.