3 data-driven approaches to raise the bar on customer experience

BrandPost By Beth Stackpole
Oct 03, 2022
Business ContinuityCIO

To deliver value-creating CX innovation, CIOs are aligning with the business to find the right blend of technology, people, and process.

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In the digital age, customers expect seamless experiences from the brands they do business with, regardless of where or how they buy goods and services. Customers gravitate to personalized interactions and show a preference for companies that anticipate and cater to their unmet needs.

PwC research found that customers are willing to pay a 16% price premium on products and services associated with great experiences – but one in three customers say they’ll walk away from a beloved brand after just one bad encounter. What constitutes a great experience? For some customers, it’s inputting payment information once upon sign-up and then being able to make a purchase with a single swipe or click. For others, it’s receiving product recommendations based on previous purchases, being notified of localized offers when they are in or near a physical store, or simply receiving personalized communications.

Business leaders, recognizing the importance of elevated customer experiences, are looking to the CIO and their IT teams to help harness the power of data, predictive analytics, and cloud resources to create more engaging, seamless experiences for customers. Those needs are influencing IT investment priorities and elevating the CIO’s role in customer experience initiatives. More than three-quarters (77%) of IT leaders surveyed in the 2022 State of the CIO study said their direct interactions with customers increased last year, and 57% expect their involvement in customer experience will grow further in the coming year. Business leaders in the survey said improving customer experience (CX) was their CEO’s top priority for IT in the year ahead.

“Line of business owns the customer experience, but IT is a critical partner to the business,” says Miriam McLemore, Director of Enterprise Strategy and Evangelism with AWS. “Having technology and business walking hand in hand to deliver a capability is absolutely critical, and business leaders that understand this get a lot more done.”

As a result, IT and business leaders are working together on data-driven initiatives, buttressed through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to create more value for customers, which in turn creates more value for the business.

“Data has become the currency of so many organizations in understanding and delivering value for their customers,” says McLemore, who before joining AWS served as corporate CIO at Coca-Cola Co. “CIOs need to partner much more closely with line of business to deliver data insights and tools that provide visibility into the customer journey and help create interesting value propositions that excite their customers.”

3 ways CIOs can help the business raise the bar on CX

Most business and IT leaders understand the value of getting closer to customers. But how can they actually build a CX mindset into broader digital transformation efforts? Consider three key areas of focus:

1. Embed CX into your data strategy. To tap insights that can help elevate the customer experience, CIOs first need to modernize their approach to managing, accessing, analyzing, and acting on data. This transformation includes cloud-based data infrastructure, unifying silos of data sources across the organization, and applying analytics and AI/ML to find new and improved ways to engage customers and reduce friction in their interactions.

Philips, a leading health technology company, built a new platform on AWS called the Philips HealthSuite Platform that unifies data from devices in clinics, hospitals, and patients’ homes to improve patient experiences and outcomes, in compliance with data security protocols and industry privacy regulations. Philips teams across the company use Healthsuite to build ML models that help the company’s healthcare customers unlock data insights, including clinical predictions and operational forecasts. One Philips customer in the ophthalmology field is using the platform to deliver better care by securely integrating electronic medical records, diagnostics, and procedures for cataract patients. The integration helps the company quickly generate recommended treatment plans and improve surgical procedures while increasing patient satisfaction and operational efficiencies.

 The handling of medical data or any type of sensitive customer information makes compliance and security critical components of CX-focused data and technology initiatives. “A modern data strategy is about getting clear on the data, getting access to the various data sources, understanding the variety of analytics needs across your organization, and importantly, what governance and security requirements you need to put in place to support the sharing of data sets that have not been integrated before,” says McLemore.

2. Reduce friction not just for customers, but for customer-facing employees. The ability to delight customers is not just enabled through technology – it also falls to the front-line employees who interact directly with those customers. That’s why CX initiatives must be supported by training to help workers get comfortable with advanced analytics and other tools designed to help them deliver better experiences.

“A big barrier to change is fear,” says McLemore. “People hear ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’ and it sounds like the movie ‘Space Odyssey.’ So training is absolutely critical. We see companies that invest in training across the business gaining momentum much faster than those that just train their architects or IT team.”

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited has reduced friction at the point of sale with an initiative that guarantees customers a pizza will be ready for pickup within three minutes or safely delivered within 10 minutes. A central ingredient of the pizza franchise giant’s Project 3TEN initiative is a smart ordering system, built on the AWS Cloud, that uses predictive analytics to help workers determine what pizzas might be ordered next. Domino’s designed the system to be intuitive to reduce training time for employees. The Domino’s Technology Team also worked closely with the Operations Team to ensure a smooth rollout, with all new processes seamlessly dovetailing into existing operations.

Using Amazon SageMaker to build and train machine learning models, Domino’s stores can predict the likelihood that an order will be placed, enabling kitchen staff to begin making in-demand pie combinations well ahead of time. AWS-based data analytics tools also help stores predict demand based on external events, keep the right ingredients stocked, and prepare the orders in advance, thus reducing pickup and delivery times and improving customer satisfaction.

3. Lean into innovation. An agile approach and strong partnerships across the business will help CIOs and their teams create a continuous flow of innovation to stay on top of changing customer needs and interests. “Focus on areas of the business that have a time-bound need, which will force you to take more of an agile approach to creating a new capability,” says McLemore. “Then you can add to that capability based on the feedback you get.” 

With the goal of improving the user experience and increasing efficiency, Autodesk used AWS to develop My Insights, a service that analyzes individual product usage data and delivers personalized insights for improving user efficiency and proficiency in AutoCAD.

Starting with a small but relevant use case and quickly showing positive results can generate excitement across the business about the possibilities of using data to uplevel CX.

“Getting into experimentation mode will help you lower the cost of failure,” McLemore says. “A willingness to fail, supported by an agile methodology that reduces the impact of that failure, will help you learn and pivot with your customer experience initiatives. The ability to pivot is a new and learned skill that companies have to embrace.”

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