Big data, digital and customer experience management (CEM)

Without any doubt the world has gone the digital direction – becoming more focused on the customer experience while trying to map customer interactions and generating useful information that will increase satisfaction, leading to continuous business growth. Khaled Mkahal, VP of CEM & Digital Practice, PCCI Group says that in-line with this trend, people are becoming more involved in exploring and researching ‘three words’- big data, digital and Customer Experience Management (CEM), especially if they are working in service oriented sectors like telecom, banking and travel and tourism.

Keeping in mind the size and amount of information being exchanged daily brings up an important question – “Is there any clear, common understanding that defines the three words? Can they really be separated?”

Unfortunately, there is none at the moment as this area is considered as a growing non-mature space. Definitions and concepts keep evolving with new approaches, strategies and best practices. We will try to address these areas from our understanding, hoping it will help embrace these new trends.

Customer Experience (CX): It is the perceived experience of a customer to a certain product or service, the experience can be good, bad or normal. The ability to measure customer experience and manage this information, i.e. analyse it, improve it and reuse it to derive new services and products personalised to the customer is what we call Customer Experience Management. It is important to understand that the experience is holistic and cannot be segregated and hence, is difficult to capture. In the CEM world this is referred to as measuring customer experience throughout the customer life cycle and against all touch points.

Let me give you an example. The experience of a customer who wants to stay in a particular hotel starts from the time he visits the hotel’s website to book a room until he checks out of the hotel. This includes his experience at the time of check in, while using the facilities of the hotel and finally when he makes the final payment. The question that now arises is how to measure his experience and ensure that the customer would not only return to the same hotel but also share his experience and recommend the hotel to his friends and colleagues which, in turn, would translate to more business for the hotel.

Digital: To explain this simply, digital is the form of the data that customers generate during their interactions with different touch points. It also denotes the channels that the customer has used to transfer this data. It is definitely advantageous to have data captured in digital form, thus increasing the ability to process it further.

If we go back to our hotel example, we can consider the hotel website that the customer used to book his room as the digital channel and the information that he was required to fill and the online payment he made as digital data.

Big Data: This is data that is generated by all customer transactions for each and every product/service they have experienced.

Let’s go back to the hotel example to understand this a little more. Here, “big data” is the data generated by the customer (his profile, the country he is traveling from, number of days of stay, the room type, the means of payment, utilities access in the hotel like pool, gym, restaurants, feedback, complaints if any, etc.). It is, of course, easy to collect this type of data from one customer but imagine the size of the same data when collected for all the customers of the hotel over a long period of time. This cumulative data of all customers is what we call ‘big data’. In fact, in reality, customers can use multiple services at the same time generating more data.

It is important to be able to define and distinguish the meanings of the ‘three words’ distinctly. They all come together in one gigantic process as one of them is the input (big data), the second is the form and channel of the data (digital) and the final one (CEM) is the engine and process which, when applied to this data, helps improve both customer satisfaction and business growth.

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