By John Bates
Is your firm stuck in the Customer Service Dark Ages? Or have you entered the Age of Customer Experience Management? This article identifies the differences between the two, and shows you how, using real-time data, you can keep your business relevant for your customers’ ever-changing demands.
We are living in a new era – one where available technologies can almost magically drag firms out of the traditional customer service Dark Ages and catapult them into the enlightened Age of customer experience management (CEM). But what is CEM? At its simplest definition, it’s the collection of processes a company uses to track, oversee and manage every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle. Customer experiences include not only interactions through traditional channels, such as purchases, customer service requests and call center communications but also, increasingly, through social CRM channels such as Twitter and Facebook. And it is made possible through Intelligent Business Operations (IBO), in which streaming analytics, historical data management and decision management technologies are integrated into the transactional and bookkeeping activities that run a business.
Firms stuck in the customer service Dark Ages have no idea how to take advantage of today’s mobile opportunities or how to customize a user’s experience. But in the Age of customer experience management, they can use their real world presence to their advantage, by offering their customers new and compelling services.
Real-time offers will be pushed to customers, perfectly tailored to what they like, where they are and in the context of what they’re doing. Customers could even see offers of things they desire before they even realize they want it themselves.
How is this possible? It can all be achieved by spotting patterns within big, fast data – in real-time – and cross-referencing them against the behaviours, stated preferences and interests learned from the past.[ms-protect-content id=”9932″]
Real-time adaptive intelligence technology will cannon firms out of the Dark Ages, and into the light, where they will be prepared for anything. They will see risks and threats to their businesses and – at the same time – be able to identify opportunities for growth and profit.
Firms that are stuck in the Dark Ages do not even know how to find out whether what they are doing is effective. How can they, if they don’t know what they are looking for? Visibility into the data your enterprise is creating and taking in is key. For example, if your customers are spurning one of your top products for a competitor’s after a price increase and you cannot see this, how can you expect them to buy any of your other products?
As Maureen Fleming, analyst from IDC, once said: the most cost effective way of solving your customer problems is to fix them before they realize there’s a problem.
Innovative firms are doing just that – using real-time analytics to identify and visualize trends in data. They are mastering the “mystic runes” of the big, fast data that flows through or around their business. They are figuring out what they are looking for, and finding it – giving them the ability to identify and maneuver around crises and business issues and sometimes even take advantage of them.
Finding, analyzing and responding to patterns that pertain to your business, from inside or out, can help you turn an issue or crisis into a competitive advantage. This may sound simplistic, but I assure you it is possible.
The mobile phone industry is one of the most competitive markets in the world. It can be likened to a shark feeding frenzy; competitors fight to win – and keep – the fish (the customers) and often take bites out each other (other operators’ market share).
Turkcell, the leading mobile phone operator in Turkey, was in a quandary. It wanted to continue to grow, but the mobile market was saturated. So it decided to tackle the feeding frenzy head on, fighting against customer churn, attracting new customers, and taking clients away from competitors.
The strategy? A series of real-time marketing campaigns that offer personalized customer services and exciting new promotions to the right customer, at the right time, in the right place.
Ozlem Demirboga was just going to grab a sandwich at lunchtime then rush back to her desk. Shopping for the designer shoes that she loves is often done on the run, so it is tough for her to keep up with sales and promotions in the many tempting stores of her native Istanbul, Turkey.
Today as she leaves her building, she receives a text message on her mobile phone. It is an offer from a boutique on the next street with a promotion for 10% off designer shoes if she comes in within the next hour. Ozlem has time to take a quick detour, pick up a great pair of discounted shoes, and still grab lunch.
The fact that Ozlem loves designer shoes and received a promotion for them on her phone is not coincidental. Ozlem is not just an ordinary mobile user. She happens to be responsible for customer experience management at Turkcell. In fact, she was responsible for the mobile location-aware promotion application that just sent her the message.
The message came from a new breed of real-time marketing systems that can make informed and relevant offers in exactly the right place and at exactly the right time.
The criteria of right place, right time and relevance are all key to a successful mobile promotion. Giving the customer a properly tailored experience comes from reading the mystic runes of big, fast data and acting upon it.
Mobile carriers are not alone in latching on to revolutionary customer engagement opportunities: banks are doing it too. DBS, Singapore’s largest bank, has a footprint that includes branches in Hong Kong, India, China and Indonesia. It is a full service bank with tiered offerings from small savers and regular banking services to wealth management for high-net-worth individuals.
DBS has launched some revolutionary mobile services for its customers that have increased both loyalty and the utilization of DBS financial products. One of the main drivers for developing these new services was the threat that DBS saw in the market from vendors trying to create a “mobile wallet.” With the increasing utilization of smart mobile devices, firms like Google and PayPal could potentially disintermediate banks like DBS.
David Backley, DBS’ Managing Director for Consumer Bank Technology, had an idea for how to take the bank’s game to the next level through intelligent mobile banking. The first thing DBS wanted to do was to get closer to customers and provide them with a better experience.
In Singapore, people are very active in shopping and eating out where they use credit cards and mobile phones. And they like to receive special offers. David wanted to make these offers in real-time, based on customer location, interests and characteristics, rather than an after-the-fact offer.
Even without a mobile device, when you swipe your credit card DBS knows where you are and can make an offer to you via the store. However, the really compelling opportunity was to provide services in the same style as Turkcell. For customers that opt in, the bank can push opportunities based on right place, right time and relevant offers to customers’ smart phones.
Because a bank has a lot of financial information about its customers, it is in a powerful position to categorize them and statistically predict the behaviour of people in certain categories. The bank can analyze your likelihood to buy a particular product, based on your previous buying habits and what “buckets” the statistical computer models put you in. For example, it could tell if you are more likely to buy a product in a store or over the web. If it is in a store, you would be the promotional target. The bank’s partners want to target the most relevant customers – and the bank has a good shot at it.
Consider a customer in the young executive salary bracket buying an expensive camera or DVD player at a shopping mall and using her DBS credit card. Within minutes, she will get an offer for a discount to eat at a popular restaurant nearby. The restaurant is making an offer ¬– through DBS bank – of a certain discount for a small window of time. Once the customer pays the restaurant bill, again with her bank’s card, she may receive an SMS offer for a prize draw that encourages her to keep shopping at the mall.
Of course, the bank knows your credit worthiness too and can up-sell to you in another way. When a customer makes a large purchase such as a flat screen TV, using a DBS credit card, the bank can analyze the customer’s credit score and, if appropriate, initiate a call from customer care to offer an installment plan. Paying the purchase off in, say, 12 monthly installments benefits the consumer and also the bank – which makes some profit and ensures the customer still has available credit on his card for more purchases.
David says that as the bank learns more about the science behind real-time campaigns they can fine-tune them. For example, they could tweak offers intra-day to enhance their effectiveness based on continuous analysis of the offer campaign’s performance.
Real-time visibility of campaign efficacy is provided through dashboards, allowing the credit card team to have continuous insight. It is possible to monitor parameters of a campaign against key performance indicators, to see if a campaign has had the predicted number of responses within a time window; or to see if a limited availability offer is in danger of being over-subscribed.
Naturally there are privacy concerns with services that have so much visibility into customers’ information. David says it is critical that such services are “opt in” and that customers have tight control over the contact policy. For example, a customer may want no more than one marketing message per day and the system must adhere to this, or risk damaging the bank’s relationship with the customer.
The Enlightened Age
Businesses today are under constant threat – from competitors, from unenlightened business models, and from unexpected crises.
Retail businesses see an increasing threat from online purveyors, rendering retailers’ bricks and mortar into showrooms for Amazon. Telcos are being relegated to commodity status, where their value is diminished to being a data pipe. Mobile phone service providers see customer “churn” eating away at their bottom line.
In the case of retail banks, disintermediation – or removing the bank as the middleman – is a threat. Innovative, low touch services such as Paypal or Google Wallet are tearing business away from the once-stalwart Main Street banks.
Other firms pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service, particularly those that base their business on staying within the parameters of service level agreements (SLAs). However, in the unfortunate event that an SLA is breached, the repercussions can now be much worse than ever before thanks to social media. The power of social media allows customers to do rapid and far-reaching damage to a firm, highlighting problems for the world to see.
These firms, and many others, are in real danger, especially if they cannot spot the threats lurking. So, by mastering the “mystic runes” of the big, fast data that flow through or around their businesses, they can finally know what they are looking for – and find it. This will help them to identify and maneuver around crises and business issues and – sometimes – even take advantage of them!
About the Author
Dr. John Bates, Software AG CTO for Intelligent Business Operations & Big Data, Member of the Group Executive Board.
In 2011 “Wall Street and Technology” magazine named John one of the “10 innovators of the decade”. In 2011, 2012 & 2013 “Institutional Investor” named John in its “Tech 50” of disruptive technologists. John holds a Doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge (England).