People get caught up in the differences among business functions, companies, and industries, but easily lose sight of commonalities. For instance, almost every business today calls itself “customer-centric” in delivering value through their business model.
Yet the conventional wisdom holds that self-learning customer intelligence platforms are technology tools for marketers only. This narrow-minded approach makes little sense, as the functions that these AI-enabled platforms perform, as well as the benefits they provide, cut across multiple business functions, organizations, and industries. A customer intelligence platform handles data collection, control, and hygiene, as well as integrating with other systems: in 2019, these capabilities are foundational and go far beyond “just” marketing.
Customer intelligence for technology companies
Almost all companies today are “technology companies,” to some extent. It might be better to separate “technology-driven” companies from “pure technology” companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.), which make their money by producing hardware and/or software. A customer intelligence platform can benefit either type of company, but let’s focus on “pure tech” companies.
Obviously, “pure tech” companies have marketing departments that might leverage customer intelligence to improve their customer experiences/CXs. But as every marketer, and everyone else in business knows in 2019, everything a company (whether “tech-driven” or “pure tech”) does contributes to the CX. Badly designed and/or manufactured products? Bad CX. Late delivery or bad after-sales service? Bad CX. Website clunky with content customers don’t find relevant? Bad CX.
Customer intelligence support great CXs
A customer intelligence platform is a tool for shaping great customer experiences, for being truly “customer-centric” in everything a company does. AI-enabled customer analytics are shifting way beyond merely enabling the marketing/sales function: they’re providing the customer’s perspective to inform product design and development, product distribution, and generally breaking down once-siloed business functions.
As David Raab, founder of the Customer Data Platform Institute, explains, “probably the biggest myth is that [a customer intelligence platform] is a one-size-fits-all solution. Companies have different needs and there are different [customer intelligence] products that fit those needs.” Raab explains that the benefits of customer intelligence go way beyond “just” marketing, to inform “pure tech”/IT functions “such as predicting workloads or optimizing distribution planning . . . we see more activities that cross traditional departmental boundaries, with customer data as the connecting thread.”
How AT&T is using customer intelligence for CX
When it comes to technology companies, AT&T is both a pioneer and a cutting-edge innovator. As Victor Nilson, senior vice president, big data, AT&T, tells McKinsey & Company: AT&T uses customer intelligence “to analyze all the different permutations to augment that [customer] experience to more quickly resolve or enhance a particular situation. We take the complexity out and turn it into something simple and actionable.”
Equally important, AT&T feeds lessons learned via customer intelligence back into its business processes, to optimize performance. “So, we take the optimization not only for the customer care but also for the [entire] network, and then tie that together,” explains Nilson. AT&T leverages customer intelligence to be truly customer-centric.
5 ways customer intelligence platforms benefit technology companies
1. As an integrated system for data management, not a bunch of bolted together parts. You don’t need to be an engineer to understand that complete, organic systems built from the ground up work more efficiently and collaboratively than “platforms” made up of different components and layers bolted together. You gain efficiency benefits purely from the integrated, fully-packaged nature of the platform versus systems that look like something Dr. Frankenstein might have assembled on a table.
2. A customer intelligence platform enhances your data quality. Raw and silo’ed data gets processed into actionable business insights that inform better decision-making and dynamic process optimization. With an AI-enabled customer intelligence platform, you have data quality (i.e., actionable data) and a “single source of truth,” not “data spaghetti” and data silos across your organization. Bad data quality can damage any business.
3. Intelligence inform your customer profiles and customer segmentation, allowing your company to engage customers in more personalized ways -- ways they want you to engage with them.
4. To optimize and inform your site design. Customer intelligence enables dynamic, multi-platform web design. Every customer is different and wants a more personalized engagement. Designing a “one-size-fits-all” website makes little sense. With customer intelligence, you can dynamically shape your web design and user interface/UI elements according to the preferences of your customers, boosting engagement and bottom lines.
5. Managing your IT/data needs. Customer intelligence shows you patterns of when and how your customers use your website and systems. By capturing these usage patterns, you can better plan your IT system workloads, as well as your maintenance and distribution plans. You can match your IT capacity to your ongoing needs.
Chuck Leddy is a Zylotech contributing writer.
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