Data-driven decisions are the foundation of good customer experiences

To stay relevant, organisations need to use data-led innovation to drive better decision-making and keep customers at the centre of their business.

Johannesburg, 05 Mar 2020
Read time 4min 20sec
Riad Gydien, Senior Vice President: EMEA at SAS.
Riad Gydien, Senior Vice President: EMEA at SAS.

In the modern, increasingly commoditised world, customer service is considered a key differentiator. In other words, those businesses that build and nurture relationships with potential and existing customers, and focus on putting the customer at the heart of their organisation, will be the ones to take the lead in the near future. Moreover, they will experience an increase in customer lifetime value and a reduction in churn.

According to SAS Senior Vice President Riad Gydien, appointed to lead Europe, the Middle East and Africa region (EMEA), as a growing number of companies look to implement digital transformation, this focus on customers is changing the role of enterprise software providers. These enterprises are being forced to shift from being mere ‘box droppers’ to adopting a more advisory and consultative relationship with customers, focused specifically on business outcomes.

“In the end, corporations will need to rethink their customer ecosystems if they truly expect to keep pace with both technology evolution and increasingly empowered consumers. Remember, though, that a customer-centric company is one that offers more than just good customer service. It is, instead, a business that focuses on creating a culture around the customer and their needs. To this end, companies will essentially need to realign around a customer-centric vision that encompasses everything from sales to deployment, training and value creation,” says Gydien.

“The key to success for customers lies in the perfect alignment of technology, education, support and services. If these areas all dovetail together perfectly, they will provide a seamless and exceptional customer experience.”

Gydien adds that it is also worth noting that customer-centricity is widely considered to be the most important characteristic required in order to establish a truly ‘digital-native’ culture.

“Data-led innovation is changing the world, and deploying tools such as analytics is critical if the goal is to drive better decision-making across the enterprise. With this in mind, the new role of enterprise software providers is to support customers as they undertake their digital transformations.

“This means being focused on helping customers to apply the most advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques available in order to help solve their most critical business challenges.”

Naturally, as the customer organisations move farther along their digital transformation journeys, continues Gydien, they increasingly come to understand that their investments must focus on more than just the data and technology itself, and should actively generate value creation. A good example here would be how data scientists used to be evaluated on the number of algorithms they could create, whereas today, their influence is more likely to be measured by the business outcomes these algorithms support.

"Modern customers are facing some incredible challenges: the explosive growth of data, the need to drive near-real-time decisions at massive scale, a multitude of rapidly emerging technologies and a seemingly insurmountable skills gap. If data scientists are to remain relevant, they must undoubtedly develop the ability to sense, understand and respond to changing market conditions and customer expectations with both speed and agility.

“To gather the intelligence they need, the enterprise has to put the customer at the core of every decision it makes, and combine this approach with customer relationship management (CRM) and advanced analytics. This will enable them to collect a wealth of data, thereby obtaining a full 360-degree view of the client, which can then be leveraged to enhance the customer experience. This can be done through a clear understanding of customer buying behaviour, interests and engagement, and will allow the business to identify opportunities to create products and services for its best customers.”

At the end of the day, suggests Gydien, the right customer intelligence will guide, inform and advise business leaders, enabling them to make the most informed decisions. Such intelligence can even provide additional business value, when it is shared with partners or used to secure new partnerships.

“However, it must be remembered that customer intelligence is only worth anything if it can, in turn, be transformed into the kind of customer insight that is utilised to enhance the customer experience and journey, as well as the supplier’s sales, service and profits,” he says.

“It is SAS’s view that it is for the above reason that enterprise software providers simply have to work closely with customers to help them go from data to analytics to decisions, and to equip business leaders and data scientists for the future. After all, by helping these players to better understand their customers on a granular level, they will enable these companies to ultimately make more intelligent business decisions,” concludes Gydien.