We know more about our customers than ever before, but why do they still feel distant? Liisi Koivu and Juhana Tormilainen reveal what you should understand about leading by data, well thought-out governance models, and agile teamwork during times like these.

In the small village shops of the past, people talked and shared their news and thoughts. The shopkeeper knew everything about the neighbourhood’s people, from their purchasing power and creditworthiness to their family situation and personal preferences. The shopkeeper kept all the information to himself or perhaps wrote it in a journal that was kept under the counter.

Nowadays, companies have more information about their customers than ever before. However, the customers might still feel distant to the company. This was true even before the corona pandemic, and now to top it all, the daily lives of the customers’ have changed completely.

So how can you prevent alienation from your customers and secure the future of your own business?

Data helps in decision-making if you give up the silo mentality

The idea of leading by data is nothing new. Companies have a huge number of projects under way to develop for example customer retention, service scenarios, and online business.

The larger the enterprise, the more likely it is that data projects will be done separately from each other: one business unit, division, or individual need at a time. When a common view on issues is missing, the overall picture is not clear. The customer, however, deals with the entire company – not with individual silos.

  • By combining information from different sources, you dismantle silos and create consistent and meaningful customer experiences.
  • For example, by combining transaction data from the order-delivery process with customer satisfaction results and offer lead times, you get a whole new type of view of what development projects your company should prioritise to improve customer experience and profitability.
  • Leading by data simply means utilising information already in the company’s processes in decision-making.

Leading by customer insight requires a robust governance model

Process mining and data analysis often reveal bottlenecks in very surprising locations. Therefore, you should be prepared to focus development on any part of the organisation. This could for example mean developing the invoicing or service process, or improving the operations of an individual staff or logistics partner. As service situations and transactions become digital, more and more development projects are tied to technological capabilities and tools. Without a robust governance model, identified development targets can be difficult to carry out.

  • It is important that a strategic goal, guidelines, and metrics are created for customer experience management.
  • You should plan an operating model for who gets to make decisions and set priorities, who executes operation, who monitors the effectiveness of development measures, and so on.

Agile teams speed up change management

With a proper governance model, agile development can be possible in large enterprises, where existing operating methods, organisation, and systems must always be taken into account. When multi-skilled teams are allowed to operate in a customer-driven manner and make decisions about their own work, they get back into the world of the village shopkeeper mentioned in the beginning.

In a changing world, the need to understand our customer is getting more and more important. Global crises alongside digitalisation and other megatrends drive us to serve our customers better. Compared to the shopkeeper of the past, we have a huge amount of technology and know-how, but that alone is not enough: you must harness technology for the benefit of your customer and your business.

Fortunately, it is not too late yet: there is still room to stand out in the traditional fields, but we must embark on a journey of change now.

About the authors

Liisi Koivu works as Senior Advisor in Sofigate’s Customer Experience & Interaction business. She is a proved expert in customer experience strategies, governance models, customer experience measurement and leading by customer insight.

Juhana Tormilainen leads Sogigate’s Experience & Interaction business. He is a visionary in developing and managing customer experience. Juhana gets fired up by seeing simple and practical solutions turned into lasting change.

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