Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Customer analytics remain a relatively immature play for many organisations in Australia and Asia-Pacific even as data becomes the cornerstone of differentiation and engagement, a new report claims.
According to Forrester’s latest Asia-Pacific Companies Embrace Customer Analytics report, siloed operational structures within organisations, coupled with a narrow focus on existing services and capabilities in digital marketing strategies and immature customer journey mapping techniques, are preventing many organisations from improving their customer engagement approach.
The research firm pointed out customer insight professionals and competencies typically focus on customer segmentation and campaign performance measurement and more recently, have been extended into digital marketing strategies. However, these are mostly about customer acquisition and on-boarding, and fail to recognise the importance of looking at the whole customer lifecycle.
“It’s not enough to have a world-class digital capability for acquiring new customers,” the report authors stated. “Empowered customers expect the same type of seamless experience, improved efficiency and heightened responsiveness in all subsequent interactions with your brand – not just within the same channel across multiple sessions, but across multiple channels and multiple sessions.”
One of the core reasons cited by Forrester is that Web analytics initiatives are centred on optimising conversion rates and interactions through digital channels, yet aren’t reconciled to existing business intelligence capabilities, campaign management and advanced analytics tools extending across front-end and back-end platforms.
In addition, few regional firms have developed a strong internal link between improved customer experience and data-driven customer insights, Forrester stated. Existing organisational silos separating marketing from sales, service and production have kept many focused on product-based initiatives rather than a business-oriented customer strategy, as have siloed digital strategies, the research firm said.
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In a survey of Asia-Pacific marketers earlier in 2014, Forrester also found less than half completely trusted the data quality and analysis results of their company’s business intelligence applications, while 17 per cent had little or no trust in these capabilities.
While there are specific reasons for the lack of advancement in growth markets across the Asia-Pacific, Forrester offered a range of advice relevant to all organisations including Australia, on how to overcome core challenges and help mature a customer analytics approach:
- Secure senior management buy-in to drive a customer-centric strategy
- Understand and overcome data quality concerns and lack of adequate governance
- Identify metrics and implement effective measurement capabilities
- Work with digital strategy and customer experience teams to identify challenges and/or opportunities across the full customer lifecycle
- Prioritise investments accordingly.
Primary report author and Forrester Australia research director for Customer Insights, Michael Barnes told CMO that Australian organisations are typically advanced in terms of customer analytics understanding and capabilities, but challenges remain.
“For example, many Australian organisations still lack alignment between IT and the business on customer analytics-related goals and objectives,” he said.
“While Australian companies typically have some experience and capabilities identifying and extracting customer insights from both internal and external data sources, most also still struggle to actually apply those customer insights to business, and in particular digital strategies.”
In the report, Forrester said effective customer analytics initiatives will typically be part of a broader, CEO-led digital transformation that embraces an outside-in approach to customer understanding.
“But customer insights professionals must help their organisations expand current customer analytics initiatives into a true digital intelligence capability that effectively served empowered customers who demand improved experiences,” the report stated.