Features and Analysis

360-degree view of the customer: Tracking digital footprints

Successful businesses revolve around their customers – literally. They’re doing that by collecting and correlating data from a wide variety of sources – from network nodes to Facebook posts—to piece together a 360-degree view of what each customer is experiencing. Tim Kridel looks at some examples.

Tools such as personas and journey maps are increasingly being used to identify different types of customers and what each group wants and needs. Other emerging methodologies which are gaining traction include sentiment analysis, which looks at customers’ moods, behaviors, feelings and other emotions.

Service providers can use those insights to identify the investments and improvements that will have the greatest impact on customers’ experience.

Analyzing sentiment

Sentiment analysis is one of the techniques that T-Mobile USA used to cut churn in half. By identifying both the things that trigger certain customer behaviors and the reactions themselves, the company can proactively develop the most effective ways to address complaints and prevent escalation.

Last year Telefónica began using artificial intelligence in its core network that Natalie Homer, UK Lead, Global Corporate Communications, says, “improves efficiencies and predicts network problems before they happen, which by extension improves customer experience.”

BT uses performance data from the core network to identify problems. Here too the aim is to fix the problems before customers even notice them

“The proactive intervention in our network is key to our approach,” says Dave Young, BT Director of Customer Insight. “Removing the reasons why customers may perceive the network as not performing before they actually see the problem is absolutely the right way to go about it.”

What really matters?

It’s important to take a holistic view of the customer experience because so many things influence whether they stay or go. For example, everything might indicate that a customer’s service is performing flawlessly day in and day out, yet they churn anyway. Why? Maybe their perception was that  the price was too high – but such a reason would only  discovered through an exit survey.

“There are many things that drive the overall perception from a customer perspective,” Young says. “You have to be careful not to over-index one particular thing.”

Look beyond the service

The same advice applies to everything outside the service itself, such as how a customer signs up for it and, later on, gets help with it. Chronic frustration with, for example, logging in to check an account balance or pay a bill can cause customers to drop a service that works just fine.

“You want to understand that [a]360-degree view of the customer includes every touchpoint across channels with your brand: mobile apps, social media, self-service, IVR, contact center, everything,” says Dan Arthur, Senior Director of Customer Experience and Operations at Andrew Reise, a consultancy. “Which ones are the key drivers driving customers to purchase or be more loyal?”

Analyzing the omnichannel experience means figuring out, for example, why someone feels as if they get a great experience when speaking with a live agent but a bad one using a chat or web FAQ. The good news is that there’s no shortage of qualitative and quantitative tools to provide those insights.

“You’re starting to see more companies trying to get that complete 360-degree view [by]bringing in web analytics, speech analytics, surveys and measuring all of those interactions,” Arthur says.

Sprint is among the service providers that have added social media analytics to their big data customer experience tools.

“Building a 360-degree view is tricky when a customer isn’t one person, but three, a dozen or thousands.”

Matching Candy Crush

Renato Derraik, Sprint’s Head of Digital Transformation, says that over the next three years, the company hopes to use big data to increase sales three- to five-fold, and to match Candy Crush in terms of digital engagement and provide digital care on a par with Apple’s.

To achieve those and other goals, Sprint hired people whose big data expertise includes artificial intelligence.

“We’re pushing the unstructured data to the nth degree,” he said at the Techweek Kansas City event. “Then, we can deliver the right offers to the right customers in the right channels.”

When “customer” is plural

Building a 360-degree view gets tricky when a customer isn’t one person but instead three, a dozen or thousands. That’s the case with a family on a shared mobile plan or a business that provides all of its employees with a cell phone.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) uses multiple tools to analyze the customer experience of its enterprise customers.

“The way we proceed about customer experience assessment is two-dimensional,” says Ahmed Gharawi, STC General Manager of Enterprise Customer Experience Excellence. “[We] analyze business customers as a company or account, [and]analyze individuals within that company or account.

“[We also] gauge customers’ perception and compare it to actual performance by analyzing internal systems-generated data related to customer experience,” he explains.

STC visits key customers’ offices to discuss all of the customer experience aspects it analyzes, as well as each customer’s key requirements. It also uses surveys, with the type varying by customer size.

“For large customers, we use online surveys complemented with phone surveys and reach out to all customers falling in that segment, while for government institutions we use a more direct approach such as direct visits,” Gharawi says.

“For small to medium customers, we use field surveys reaching out to a representative sample of customers using all our services and interacting with us through all available channels.

“There are some means that are common to all customer segments, such as trigger-based short surveys across the customer journey at key events and touchpoints that send automated short surveys on a transactional basis to all customers. We assess the digital experience of our customers across all segments by probing them to tell us about their experience whenever they use digital channels.”

Drilling deeper

STC also drills deeper to understand the customer experience of individuals within an enterprise, such as top executives, decision-makers and influencers. To create a 360-degree view, it collects data such as their preferences, interests and favored communications.

“We are currently looking to deploy an analytics-based solution to manage the data to offer a personalized experience that touches on business benefits, lifestyle benefits and other privileges, as well,” Gharawi says.

It’s clear that it’s never been more important (or achievable) for companies to understand their customers individually and holistically. Those who manage this will be the leaders in the digital world.

To get started with using personas, journey maps and sentiment analysis, check out TM Forum’s Guidebook on the 360-degree view of a customer.



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About The Author

Freelance Writer

Tim is a freelance writer and independent analyst covering the tech, telecom and professional audio-video industries.

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