Integrating CX Into Data Management
By Fara Haron, Regional CEO, North America, Ireland, Southeast Asia, United Kingdom, Kenya, & India and EVP Global Clients, Segment Head Global English, Middle East, & Southeast Asia (GEMS)
The Four Ts of Integrating Data Management and Customer Experience
We’re now living in an era of hyper-personalized service. In exchange for sharing data, customers across industries now expect companies to take their activities, preferences, and histories with the company into account at every touchpoint to offer the most streamlined services possible. As such, having access to customer data is the key to avoiding pain points, resolving customer concerns, and delivering a top-of-the-line customer experience (CX). However, collecting, storing, and using customer data comes with its own set of complications.
The mismanagement of data is, understandably, a major concern for business leaders and consumers alike. With the seemingly constant barrage of news stories centered on data breaches and customer exposures, all eyes are on corporations that deal in consumer data. Misusing or mismanaging that data can spell disaster for businesses, as these kinds of missteps can permanently alter the public perception of a company’s trustworthiness and reliability. Unfortunately, these stories don’t go away; the association between a brand and a data breach can grow deep roots in the public consciousness and interfere with business-as-usual.
By rethinking the relationship between data management and CX processes, companies can streamline experiences, protect customer data, and build public trust without investing in new systems or security measures. Rather than operating separately, cybersecurity and CX teams can work together to do their part in protecting a company’s most valuable assets.
Bridging the gap
Traditionally, data management and CX teams have operated independently. It makes some sense: data is for IT and analytics teams, while CX teams deal with the human element. However, this approach fundamentally misses the primary function of CX: to give customers confidence in the brand. At the end of the day, service representatives and other external touchpoints are the only way customers interact with a brand. To most customers, they are the brand. If customers feel they can’t trust service professionals with their data, they can’t trust the company with that data. It’s that simple.
Luckily bridging the gap between data management procedures and CX processes isn’t as large of an undertaking as many business leaders believe. Instead of allowing these two elements to operate independently, companies should view proper data management procedures and good CX as two parts of the same whole. Customer service, security, and data teams can work collaboratively to manage data and customer experiences more effectively.
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It’s all about the four Ts: transparency, training, tools, and taking action.
Customers must feel confident that their data is protected from day one. A lot of companies shy away from giving customers insights into how much they know about users—but transparency can go a long way toward building trust. Customers should be able to see the logic behind a company’s desire to collect and use certain information—and which representatives have access to it. They want to be able to connect the dots. If they can’t, they may feel they’re being monitored without their consent (even if they already provided consent!).
Prioritizing transparency from day one can help strike a balance between informing and staying out of the way of progress, which is the foundation upon which customer trust is built. Even if they don’t always read the terms and conditions, customers appreciate when providers are transparent and honest about their data collection, management, and use policies.
And that doesn’t mean just making that information available but obscured by legalese and complicated jargon. Businesses that leverage data should present their collection and use policies up front and in easy-to-understand language. They may even want to reiterate these policies regularly and provide an explanation when they do. While most customers breeze past these explainers day-to-day, reiterating policies can reinforce the perception that your company keeps customers in the know. That can provide peace of mind that your curated experience is based on mutual trust and respect for users’ privacy.
Companies must empower customer service representatives to use appropriate customer data to inform their decisions and interactions. That means they must understand the responsibility that comes with collecting, managing, and accessing that data. Representatives must be discreet and respectful when discussing personal information with customers.
Companies that want to integrate their CX and data management programs should focus on setting service reps up for success by making comprehensive training on proper data protocols part of the onboarding process. For example, if customers can hear other people in the background when a representative reads back a credit card number, they may feel that their data isn’t being handled with care. Similarly, employees should be trained on internal procedures—like clean desk policies—that help ensure no other mechanisms for recording are close enough to capture customer data. Focusing on topics like the above during training will help representatives learn best practices and reinforce the importance of confidentiality in their new roles.
Just as important is ensuring representatives and other employees have the necessary tools and processes to collect and secure customer data on devices. This is especially important for associates working from home offices open to other people in their homes. It’s up to employers to provide these employees with the tools they need to keep collected and accessed data secure despite non-company-affiliated individuals sharing the space.
To ensure data privacy, the tools provided to associates should collect data from the customer directly and mask sensitive data where possible. Doing so can help maintain customer privacy by protecting information and instilling confidence in the company’s procedures and policies around data management.
Gathering data and insights around customer behavior is fundamental to many modern businesses, but some stop short of putting those insights to work outside personalization. Insights around pain points, behaviors, and interactions can, of course, help curate individual experiences, but they can also inform widespread change throughout an organization.
Customer interaction data is about much more than improving one person’s experience. The total of this kind of feedback and improve CX across the board. Analytics programs take the process further to foster innovation across enterprises, streamlining product design, CX, programs, and more. If businesses aren’t analyzing data and empowering CX teams to act on their insights, they’re not fully integrating the two processes to their advantage.
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Managing data is managing trust
Relying on data is a tricky business, but it’s fundamental to how most modern organizations operate. Opting out of data collection isn’t possible—which means well-executed data management is also a necessity. Contrary to public perception, data management protocols don’t just apply to IT departments. Customer service professionals must play an active role in the process as the two practices are inextricably linked. After all, these employees called representatives for a reason: they’re a reflection of the brand and its values. If your associates are well-trained in data collection, management, and activation, customers will be more willing to trust the company with that information.