Around the globe, billions of people are gradually shifting more of their lives online — they engage, share and consume. Along with the emergence of new technology in the digital era, customer behavior and expectations are changing rapidly too.

McKinsey has discovered that 75 percent of online customers expect instant assistance within less than 5 minutes. 70 percent of app users prefer added functionality over “look and feel” of apps, while 61 percent are more likely to buy from companies that deliver custom content. Another 75 percent of customers have used comparison apps for consumer goods, making items such as SEO and reviews pivotal success factors.

Trust plays a critical role in the digital context with 79 percent of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 60 percent of US consumers are concerned about the privacy of their online transactions. Research infers that 25 percent of customers will depart after just a single bad experience. Companies neglecting these circumstances run the risk of losing market share and being left behind by their rivals.

Most companies are still struggling to turn insights into a competitive advantage

McKinsey’s research, however, suggests that the vast majority of organizations are only harnessing a fraction of the potential value of data and analytics. Whether it’s the public sector, health care or manufacturing, expert estimates are that only 10 to 30 percent of the potential value has thus far been captured across most verticals.

At the same time, the relative economic value of various assets is increasingly shifting. Where old-school giants poured billions into fixed assets including factories and equipment, the emerging players invest heavily into intangible assets such as digital platforms, data mining, and analytical capabilities instead. New digital champions avoid traditional entry barriers, such as the need to build physical assets on a large scale, which allows them to disruptively conquer markets with lightning pace and at much lower costs.

Moving from center-span to frontline

Digital-native organizations constantly gather data to drive their business decisions and deliver superior customer experience. For them, data is an equally important production factor as labor, land or capital. They define a clear customer-experience ambition level and common purpose.

Besides developing an in-depth understanding of what truly matters to their customers, they are leveraging behavioral psychology to manage their customers’ expectations. Best-in-class organizations not only move from focusing on touchpoints toward holistically optimizing the entire customer journey, but also put metrics and a governance system in place.

Data fuels the growth engine

Data makes the difference in customer experience and is what sets apart leaders from laggards. According to a study conducted by the SAS Institute, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of those organizations strategically leveraging analytics accelerate their time-to-market and take advantage of faster decision-making. And while 51 percent gain greater insights on their customers, 49 percent lift their confidence level and make more informed decisions.

But data-centric organizations also garner a variety of tangible benefits. Nearly half (49 percent) enjoy greater customer engagement, 47 percent witness an increase in revenues, and another 44 percent register more repeat business from customers.

Three data-centric themes to deliver compelling customer experience

Digital champions leverage three data-centric themes to elevate customer experience and gain a competitive advantage:

Organizational Context

Delivering a superior customer experience doesn’t happen out of the blue. The organization has to be laser focused, committed, and engaged. Digital champions empower the people behind the processes. They also understand the importance of enterprise-level data analytics and embed it deeply in their DNA to expedite their agenda.

Openness & Interoperability

The openness and ability to integrate data and solutions seamlessly is the foundation of superior data-driven customer experience. Data-centric organizations break down silos and ensure their CX data is highly integrated across all channels, and interoperable toward tools and systems along the journey.

Orchestration

Successful data-driven customer experience relies on the alignment of processes with front-end channels. Digital leaders ensure their back-end processes are integrated into their CX interfaces in real time, thereby allowing the organization to instantly convert data points into usage patterns and projections.

Summary

Data-centric customer experience is key for outpacing the competition in today’s hyper-competitive digital economy. While delivering an exceptional CX still represents a major challenge for most organizations, it is in fact an essential prerequisite to thrive in the digital era and capture market share.

Digital champions utilize analytics strategically to better understand customer trends and preferences, and instantly respond to changing market conditions. Research shows that excelling in analytics cannot just accelerate time-to-market, but it can also be financially rewarding. To overcome the hurdles, organizations should focus upon organizational readiness, open data and interoperability, and well-honed orchestration of people and processes.

Marc Wilczek

Marc Wilczek

Mark Wilczek is a digital strategist who blogs about issues related to technology and information management.