If the pressure to obtain and implement Customer Relationship Management software is any indication, companies are recognizing the increasing importance of customer knowledge. Indeed, customer insights can lead companies to their best opportunities for growth far more accurately than that marketing presentation in the boardroom. The increasingly-reluctant-spending-customer needs to be better understood because company growth depends on it. The challenge is that customer interactions are not typically structured information that is easily analyzed to be acted upon, but are increasingly emails, phone conversations, web-based chat support and other unstructured information.
Outbound direct mail or telemarketing is simply not getting results for marketing departments. The focus needs to shift to creating a great customer experience on the inbound approach as an alternative. Doesn’t everyone enjoy doing business with a company that makes it easy to find and obtain what you are looking for? You don’t have to look far for proof of this idea. No longer able to differentiate on brand reputation, leading companies instead are focusing on customer experience—the all important feelings that customers develop about a company and its products or services across all touch points—as the key opportunity to break from their competition. Evidence of this new emphasis is found in the emergence of the “Chief Customer Officer (CCO)” role across the Fortune 1000 community. Companies such as United Airlines, Samsung and Chrysler have all recently announced chief customer officers as part of their executive suites.
The first challenge faced by these newly minted executives is customer experience management (CEM)—the practice of actively listening to customers, analyzing what they are saying to make better business decisions and measuring the impact of those decisions to drive organizational performance and loyalty. Enter a new technology to address all of the unstructured information that comes from customer interactions – text analytics. Text analytics is specialized software that annotates and restructures text into a form suitable for data mining. Text mining comes from data mining, a statistically rooted approach to classification, clustering, and derivation of association rules. Fortunately, there is much to be learned about how to handle unstructured data from two decades of struggling with similar problems in the structured data world. We now know as needs change and evolve, organizations will require the flexibility to integrate the most appropriate text processing technologies to extract desired information. They must enable users to apply time-tested analytical approaches that can be modified or expanded upon as understanding of issues and opportunities emerges from the data itself. For example, a call center should be able to apply a multi-dimensional analysis (i.e., “slice and dice”) to call center logs and email text for assessing trends, root causes, and relationships between issues, people, time to resolution, etc. Organizations should have the infrastructure, storage, and user interfaces to process and efficiently explore large volumes of data. And they need to easily leverage their existing BI and data warehousing (DW) tools presently used only for structured data analyses, to analyze unstructured data alongside structured data.
When text analytics are implemented against unstructured customer information, Customer Experience Management will drive significant, quantifiable benefits for the enterprise. In the most effective approaches to CEM, companies use text analytics to collect and analyze intelligence from all of the varied sources of feedback available inside and beyond the enterprise. They grow more intimate with their customers and more agilely adopt informed improvements. The focus is a real-time feedback loop that will result in a continual, systematic capability for measuring and improving customer experience.
The real magic always lives in the intersection of key technologies. Using text analytics for identifying the opportunities and trends from your customers then requires action – cross-selling or up-selling, generally implemented using automated workflows during the customer interaction. The faster and smoother the customer transaction occurs will help ensure “positive” feelings for the customer experience. A carefully architected solution implementation will drive this all important synergy for outstanding competitive results – and happy customers seeking out your company. The new mantra for marketing: Listen to your customers and make them happy.