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'Data and culture improves CX'

Experts drill down on customer experience, advocating culture changes and increased utilisation of data

'Data and culture improves CX'
Narasimhan (right): Data monetisation is emerging as a critical element.

In order to meet their customer experience goals, organisations need to implement a culture change that comes from the top, according to Ranjit Rajan, associate vice president for consulting at IDC Middle East and Africa.

Speaking at an exclusive roundtable, hosted by Cognizant Technology Solutions, Rajan explained that customer experience should be viewed as the interaction between the customer and organisation throughout the entire customer engagement. Mastery of customer experience, he said, requires the orchestration of various business processes and siloes. He added that IT could help in this regard, but that people were also key to achieving customer experience goals.

"When it comes to customer experience management, people are incredibly important to this. Access through various devices is one thing, but what products and services are being offered, through people across siloes, that's another," he said.

"Most studies that we have done typically come up with key success factors. The staff need to be friendly, interactive, and offer personalised services consistently across channels - and even just have a presence across channels. These are key parts to the success factor of customer experience."

Speaking later on at the roundtable, Raman Narasimhan, vice president, EIM Consulting and Delivery, Cognizant, said that much of the IT-related change around customer experience is to do with keeping up with Millennial customers. However, in order to this, he said that organisations should be prepared to collect and leverage data on customers.

"Millennials make up the highly informed digital connected customer. The way they're growing today, we figured out that mastery over the data can be your only strategic asset. You can have any number of resources on your balance sheet, but you need to master the data," he said.

"Eight years ago, organisations were very good at building information architectures for collecting a lot of data - this is basically listening. But all of the actions were offline. Back in those days they were a little immature. Some of the vendors oversold parts of the product suite and they didn't scale up. But with the advent of big data and the advance of analytics, this is changing."

Narasimhan explained that it was important to leverage data about customers, because Millennial customers in particular expect to be recognised by brands, and to provide them with a personal experience. And while he admitted that some organisations may not need to entertain this expectation just yet, there are plenty of consumer-facing industries that do need to think about this trend.

Narasimhan added that data collection and analysis could even go further than customer experience, and that organisations are beginning to take the next logical step towards data monetisation.

"Data monetisation is emerging as a very critical element. Okay, we're doing it for enhancing customer experience, but what else can I do with my data? It's that last bit of thirst you have after having a couple of glasses of water," he said.

However, a word of caution came from Gary Ure, head of data governance, Strategy and Planning, First Gulf Bank, who spoke during the rountable's panel discussion. He warned that, while collecting and analysing information on customers could lead to increased levels of service, overdoing it would result in a push-back from customers.

"A lot of firms are putting out statements on their websites about what they're doing with the data. Millennials are much more open to this sort of thing, but with a lot of older people it's fine telling the customer what you're doing with their data and how this is useful to them, but it's about working out where the helpful becomes the creepy. Also you need to communicate across your business what you're doing with the data," he said.

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