The Customer Journey: investing in data improves sales, and cuts costs

How companies need to start thinking ahead

Following on from my last blog post, I thought I would put together for us all some words on how businesses can improve their customer journey based on using the data that they already have, how to generate new and more useful data, and how a minimal investment in the right processes can transform their back office activities, saving both time and money.

If you have ever attended a Sales conference, or an event geared to teach you how to improve sales, you will know that the Pareto Principle states that 80% of your sales are from 20% of your customers. These loyal customers need lots of contact, and the rewards for this are endless – from repeat sales to being upsold, to referrals. And how about the elusive other 20% of sales –the impulse sales (see a product, like it), the needs based customer (need it, buy it) or the discount buyers (researched it, right price). These are often the ones who fall by the wayside, who often misdirect the sales journey in terms of resources and therefore channel into the data pool in which their activities become ‘unknown’ or ‘useless’.

The customer journey is multifaceted, and the company that invests in it, that can offer any of their customers a real time interaction, or a personalised journey, has the ability to retain and attract them with a minimum of fuss or outlay. Even better, by enabling proper customer tracking, the business can anticipate objections or obstacles to the sale, and direct the customer to different options, hence providing an element of nurturing and keeping the client involved and on board.

At the very basic level – a customer journey should consist of intelligent interaction, sales conversion, on boarding and support, the opportunity to cross sell or upsell and to enjoy the holistic experience of the company’s aftercare support and community. The organisation needs to understand the path that the customer has taken to purchase their product, and learn where they came from and understand where they got stuck, or dropped off completely. They then need to apply that data to ensure that they can build adaptive and predictive models to support that journey and ensure that the customer has been given all the information and options that he/she needs to make the decision.

There are of course, many customer journey tools on the open market and can be used with varying degrees of success. But unless they are geared to your specific customer journey – both inbound (customer) and outgoing (sales and marketing) interactions with data seamlessly interconnecting across both, they will not maximise effectiveness.

Organisations are now looking for opportunities to innovate in this area – according to the Office for National Statistics Business Investment in the UK from January to March 2019 report, investment in Intellectual Property in the UK has gone up 2.1% in a year. Of the G7 nations, the UK had the strongest quarter-on- quarter growth in gross fixed capital formation in Quarter 1 of 2019, with Germany following closely behind.

A survey undertaken by New Vantage Partners LLC in 2017 predicted this trend:

‘Big firms are bracing for a decade of disruptive change. A robust 46.6% of executives…envision a future where ‘change is coming fast’ and it may be ‘transform or die’. In addition to Big Data, these firms see disruption coming from a range of emerging capabilities, including Artificial Intelligence and machine learning (88.5%), digital technologies (75.4%), cloud computing (65.6%), Block chain (62.3%) and Fin Tech solutions (57.4%). Prepare for the decade of disruption.’

There is no doubt that bigger companies are seeing the benefit of investing in streamlining their data insights and analytics, dumping unwanted silos and ensuring that the customer journey is easier not only for their clients, but improves internal efficiencies, creates new revenue streams and improves the products and services. From Aidan Hancock at Network Rail investing in more data modernisation three months into his CIO position, to airlines giving their passengers real time updates on their mobile devices, industry is poised to fund research into their unique customer journeys.

And this makes perfect sense, from the small business to the multinational – time and money has been spent in the product, the ingredients that make the sales and marketing unique, only for it all to slide time and again on the customer journey. And big business is already expanding, in the attempt to capture and retain the elusive customer …

A recent article in Forbes discusses the rise of AI:

‘The availability of very large data sets is one of the reasons Deep Learning, a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), has recently emerged as the hottest tech trend, with Google, Facebook, Baidu, Amazon, IBM, Intel and Microsoft, all with very deep pockets, investing in acquiring talent and releasing open AI hardware and software.’

We are all customers, and we don’t like to feel left out. We have the luxury of making purchasing decisions. Ultimately a company needs a sustainable balance between customer satisfaction and the business needs.

Companies need to put the right infrastructure in place, right now, before they get left behind.

About the Author: Sarbani is Managing Director of ei² a consultancy specialising in #data #insights #performance