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Customer behavior is changing, and expectations are now higher than ever. Successful organizations across various industries recognize that a customer-centric approach is necessary for competitive differentiation. The ability to provide innovative products and services to customers, while delivering a unique experience to customers, is top-of-mind for CIOs.

Last week, 24 CIOs gathered in Melbourne and Sydney. The group, which comprised of CIOs from the financial, insurance, and health industries, discussed the increasing importance of delivering a great customer experience and the role that connectivity must play in the process.

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Here are 3 insights on what actions CIOs must take to build a great customer experience:

1. Integrating systems and improving data insights to deliver better products and services to customers

Organizations have a variety of systems that all hold valuable customer data. For example, an organization may have:

  • A legacy order system, which holds data on a customer’s order status.
  • A CRM (e.g. Salesforce), which holds data on customer contact information (e.g. name, email, etc.).
  • A POS (e.g. Shopify), which holds data on customer purchases.
  • A legacy accounting system, which holds data on the organization’s expenditures.

The list can go on and on. The reality is that the average enterprise organization has over 65 legacy and modern systems, and that’s just in a single department. In order to better serve customers and partners, organizations must be able to take all of these isolated data sources and connect them––whether it is CRM systems, social media platforms, POS systems, or accounting systems.

In achieving better integration between these data sources, organizations can create a more holistic, 360-degree view of their customers. For example, customer service representatives can have a single view of every customer (contact information, purchase history, etc.) in order to provide better customer service. Similarly, marketing teams can better understand customer purchasing habits to inform marketing and sales strategies.

2. Ensuring real-time access to data to provide a unique customer experience

It is not enough to simply integrate these systems and provide internal teams with the ability to leverage this data; rather, organizations must ensure that data is integrated in real-time. By ensuring real-time data access, organizations can provide more timely insights to internal teams as well as deliver better experiences to customers.

What does this look like in practice? For instance, if a customer’s order is delayed due to shipping issues, they will immediately receive an email on the new order status and they will also have the ability to track the shipping status in real-time. And if a patient’s appointment is canceled, they will receive a text message informing them of the change and the new appointment date.

Additionally, organizations can deliver more personalized customer experiences using real-time data. For example, if a customer spent one hour searching for gifts for Mother’s day, the organization can use that information to send personalized emails on the best Mother’s day gifts that season.

Real-time access to data not only builds better customer experiences through personalization, but research also shows that customers that have personalized shopping experiences spend 140% more than their counterparts.

3. Protecting data privacy and adhering to regulatory standards for data storage

Technology has enabled organizations to move beyond traditional borders and tap into emerging markets to expand their customer reach. On the one hand, this is a great opportunity; but on the other, this means that organizations must ensure that they not only follow local data privacy laws, but adhere other data regulations as well; such as the GDPR, the U.S. privacy law, etc.

To maintain compliance with privacy laws, organizations must ensure data integrity, and access. This requires having an unprecedented visibility into the applications, systems, and devices within an organization’s technology stack. For example, who has access to the payroll system? Who governs the Customer API? Which partners can access the information on shipping systems?

In all of these questions, connectivity is key in allowing organizations to gain better visibility into what is happening both within and between systems.

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