Data disillusionment – how to avoid one of today’s biggest business headaches

The world looks a whole lot different for business leaders today, compared to just five years ago. They are now faced with endless amounts of data that can often leave them with sleepless nights. Just to highlight the scale of the issue today, a recent analysis and forecast by the International Data Corporation concluded that the volume of the generated annual amount of digital data has already tripled between 2012 and 2015. By 2020, it should be 14 times greater than in 2012 - over 40,000 Exabytel. These are eye-opening statistics and shouldn’t be dismissed by businesses in any sector. Companies must sit up, take note, and find the key to unlocking the true potential of this data.    

Data is fast becoming one of an organisation’s most valuable assets, but businesses must first have the tools in place to capture it. Data analytics can provide deep customer insights and give organisations access to information to uncover patterns that can ultimately lead to a better customer experience. Many believed the growth and eventual flotation of Twitter and Facebook was based almost entirely on the value of the data of both businesses. However, data can often be misinterpreted due to a variety of reasons. This can cause businesses to act on the wrong information, and fail to meet the needs of customers.

According to a survey by Experian, out of 95 per cent of business leaders that believe data is changing the way their organisations operate and do business, 83 per cent believe that data isn’t currently being fully utilised. Also, 63 per cent of those business leaders believe that their company isn’t using data to its full potential in driving the organisation forward.  

Today’s agile organisations must use the findings from customer data to identify problems and adapt their offerings accordingly. In a time where customers are demanding a connected and streamlined experience – across a multitude of devices at any place, any time – it’s more vital than ever for organisations to have a holistic view of their customers and prospects.   

Businesses need to ask themselves why they are failing and how they can really get to grips with their data?    

Managing data from all sources 

It’s important for businesses to know that each and every customer is individual. The all have different ways of communicating with businesses and all have different needs. The data that is gathered by interactions with customers, whether through social media channels, by phone, email, chat etc, must flow together in one place. Users who aren’t specially trained in data analysis, should still be able to manage basic data and have enough visibility of the information to be able to make sense of the data that’s being presented.      

Data analysis is made by simple filtering and customisation, before sharing with other departments within a business. The high volume of data available to modern businesses should be seen as an asset not a problem. It should be something that provides a business with clear, actionable insights. Data analytics should be simple and a business should be able to bring together data from every step of the customer journey to continually improve the customer experience.    

Don’t get overwhelmed by quantity – quality should be the focus  

Don’t be afraid and don’t get stifled. The sheer amount of information presented can be overwhelming and take a lot of time to sift through. Organisations must know that not every piece of information collected will be relevant to a business.

The key is remaining focused on customers when searching through data can help develop a strategy that will drive a business forward. It’s important not to get lost in the quantity of data, but find the quality data that will provide real value to the business.    

This deep reaching customer intelligence will enable a business to understand its customers, improve communication and offer support where and when it’s needed most. It will soon become a true asset.    

Making the data work to create positive relationships 

In the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, businesses today have the tools available to make the data collected work for them. They should be able to predict whether a customer interaction will be positive or negative and from there, identify the best team or customer service tier to triage the customer enquiry through. This, in turn, helps customer service managers to make the best use of their team’s time and manage volume most effectively.  

It’s important to use patterns and correlations in the historic interactions with a customer to find sound conclusions on what’s going well, what isn’t, and to then find the root of any identified problem. Once this is achieved, a company is then able to implement strategy based on evidence, making the solution more accurate to suit each individual customer enquiry. 

By combining historical data with individual customer activity from websites, mobile apps, and other digital interactions, businesses can more effectively guide customers through new product experiences, provide relevant information to avoid support issues, and recommend related products all personalised to them.  

There’s no set list of instructions that comes with data analytics, which can make it problematic to navigate through. But when executed correctly, it can set a business apart and can become its most valuable intellectual property. By utilising the power of data, businesses will no longer be a step behind their customers, but be able to offer a highly-personalised experience which will keep them returning time after time.   

Rachel Delacour, General Manager, Zendesk Explore and Co-Founder of BIME Analytics at Zendesk 

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