line up of trash cans
PHOTO: Thomas Dils

There’s a movement afoot to evaluate our possessions and discard the items that take up space, but do not spark joy. By tidying up and getting rid of useless clutter, we’re promised we will feel more present, more focussed and we can be more productive. And it makes sense.

Life is complicated. We need to simplify however we can. Minimalism is gaining in popularity and it’s hitting millennials as they enter the peak spending years of ages 23 to 38.

This movement also extends to the digital realm, and includes photos, videos and emails. I can personally attest that joy does not come from deleting over 150 emails a day — but by getting 150 fewer emails in the first place.

Do Your Customer Experiences Spark Joy?

This makes me wonder — how many customer experience programs spark joy? To spark joy would mean to simplify customers’ lives by making it easy to do business with us. What would that look like?

A marketing message from a retailer that offers a discount on a pair of shoes — in a size, heel height, material and color that matches existing inventory, suits my taste, and looks great with one of my recent purchases.

Or perhaps a sales call from my financial services company that’s timed with a policy renewal, with an offer to consolidate a loan, with a special, reduced rate that includes the members of my household — even if the loans are under a different name, because it’s obvious we’re married. But only if we have debt; and only if we’re married.

It could be a service call that is resolved the first time because the right problem is proactively identified at the start. The technician sent to repair the problem has the needed parts and skills for the repair on the exact piece of equipment that’s on site, because they also have access to the version and history of the equipment.

For the business, these scenarios boil down to one thing: simplifying the process of understanding the customer, where they are in their journey, their relationships, and what experience is the best experience to deliver next.

In other words, eliminating the data clutter so the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time so they can take the right action. It’s an old phrase that is being used more frequently as AI and machine learning are increasingly applied to customer experience programs.

Related Article: A Simple Customer Experience Equation

GIGO: Garbage In / Garbage Out

Both AI and machine learning accelerate the insights we’re able to apply to our customer decisions. Together, they help us sort through the data and eliminate clutter to focus our choices based on historic behaviors and patterns so that we, as business users, can have the relevance and context to be more productive in our efforts. The success of these technologies depends on trusted data, otherwise, it’s just garbage-in, garbage-out. So, if you’re working with data that’s sub-par, chances are your CX program is probably falling short. 

While simplifying customer experiences means reducing effort on their part, simplifying can also benefit the business. When data is managed in one central location, it can save employees from wasted efforts based on poor data.

Companies that have been successful with customer data management initiatives know great customer experiences that boost loyalty and revenue start with great customer data. They acknowledge they couldn’t have improved customer experience without fixing the data, which was the root cause of their problems.

By now you’ve worked with data enough and have probably learned that data can easily turn into garbage. What you may not yet realize is that managing data isn’t a one and done activity. Data, and particularly customer data, changes frequently. New jobs, new titles, new addresses, new phone numbers, marriage and divorce, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and business openings, complex corporate structures — all contribute to the dynamic nature of customer data.

Related Article: Data Ingestion Best Practices

Take Care of Your Most Valuable Asset

Customer contact and profile data is a great place to start tidying up, but just the basic data isn’t enough to meet the demands of today’s experience economy. Businesses that are at the forefront of CX are also connecting trusted customer profiles with the data that’s created across operational applications, transaction systems and interaction channels. Data has been elevated as a strategic asset for them. And customer-facing teams are fueled by relevant and contextual information for the confidence that their next action is the right one. 

For example, if an online purchase is returned to a store, they can connect the information across systems. While it’s really important to link those two items together to prevent fraud, with today’s expectation of hyper-personalization, it’s nearly mandatory to connect those two activities with an individual — or household — before that next marketing communication, sales call, online chat or service visit.

Consider a recent report by Broadridge Financial Solutions which found 35 percent of millennials surveyed had stopped buying from brands because of poor personalization experiences. As analytics, AI and machine learning are used to uncover new insights and automate many of our decisions, the quality of your data rises to new level of importance.

If your customer experience programs aren’t sparking the joy you thought they would, it may be time to take a hard look at the state of your customer data. Talk with your IT team to better understand how you’re managing your most valuable asset — your data. They’d welcome the conversation. Explain that you want to be able to once again trust your data to deliver the context and relevance needed to spark joy for your customers and be more productive and focused across your customer-facing teams.

Related Article: What Data Will You Feed Your Artificial Intelligence?