Imagine you need to run some errands. You walk into the store and the woman behind the register says “Hi”. That’s nice. You appreciate her kindness and respond “Well, hello, how are you?” as you walk past. Now imagine that as you enter the shop she says: “Hi Jim, long time no see! How is your wife Karen? If you are looking for those cereal your kids like, they are stored in the third isle from the left.”

That’s something else! You see, customer data are crucial to ensure a satisfying customer experience. Now, the woman can’t possibly remember the names and background of every customer who walks into her store. But a computer can. Digital transformation is slowly picking up speed and is just what companies worldwide need to make the most of their customer data and boost customer engagement and retention.

Oceans of data

Over the years businesses have collected oceans of customer data. However, only a few companies today succeed in making the most out of them to determine what, how and when to communicate, despite the fact that these data hold valuable information that can improve the customer experience.

A female colleague of ours, Wendy, once bought a beautiful shirt for her husband online for a special occasion. Yet since that day, despite all the purchases she made for herself in the past, she only receives commercial emails promoting male clothing. Disappointing. You would expect that the promotional content you receive as a customer is based on your personal profile and not on a single purchase. Why would Wendy still visit the store to buy clothes for herself if she isn’t triggered by interesting products that fit her profile? This might have easily been avoided if the web shop had simply taken into account customer data it has stored about her.

Data obstacles

Customers want to be appreciated and treated according to their individual wishes and demands. If a company still asks for name and address on the fifth occasion, something is off. If the company has to ask again because the data aren’t there, the recording process is flawed. If the data are available but overlooked every time, the approach is not what it should be.

Not so long ago managing, recording and filing customer data was a tedious chore that took a long time to complete. And up to this day customer data are often badly structured or incomplete. As a result, it’s very hard to filter through them swiftly and a real challenge to take relevant information into account when interacting with customers. This renders the task of improving the customer experience rather difficult.

The power of digital transformation

Today, however, digital transformation provides new ways to go about customer data and speed up the processes needed to make the most out of these data in day to day customer communications and interactions. Platforms, databases and new ways of sharing information allow businesses to store customer data more easily and use every bit of them.

Although the IT department is the gateway for digital transformation in any business, it’s important that companies push digital transformation beyond the confines of the server room and onto the entire work floor across the different departments. All these departments have massive amounts of data at their disposal, and combining these data opens whole new perspectives in terms of customer engagement.

At first glance these pieces of the puzzle might seem inconsistent or of little value, but together they form a complete picture that has the potential to boost company results. When marketing, sales and service teams can combine the information they have on individual customers, a whole new world of possibilities opens up in terms of customer engagement, allowing for better customer experiences and thus boosting customer loyalty and retention.