In the past, managers made decisions based on their understanding of customers and markets, relying on experience, intuition and research to satisfy customers. Now companies, both B2C and B2B, are realizing that their access to an abundance of digital data – from enterprise systems, as well as from external sources – presents an opportunity to stop guessing about what customers need.
By leveraging analytics, companies can uncover insights into customer behavior and preferences. Those insights can help them to transform operations and reimagine the customer experience (CX).
And they are starting their digital transformation strategies there. Two companies that we have worked with, Scottish Water and Thomson Reuters, demonstrate how, by focusing on the CX challenges before them, they can advance their digital transformations and improve the way they run their businesses.
For Scottish Water, the customer experience challenge was delivering better service in cold winters. When temperatures fell, pipes froze and burst, leading to supply interruptions, low pressure and contamination threats. This brought a 600-800% surge in customer service calls, and a steep drop in satisfaction. It also meant that Scottish Water — which provides more than a billion liters of water daily to 2.5 million customers — had to supply expensive bottled water, pay stiff fines and deal with negative publicity.
To address this situation, company leaders worked to rethink their customers’ experience. The company implemented an intelligent emergency response system that integrated geospatial tools and analytics to improve the quality and timeliness of information provided to customers.
Through the system, Scottish Water was able to automatically retrieve customer complaints from email and web channels, create service orders, and dispatch them to field staff. The system communicates proactively with customers, regularly updating them through their cell phones. It offers real-time alerts and predictive warnings, leveraging predictive diagnostics in combination with the customer relationship management system.
The impact was striking. Customer calls dropped by 80%. Bottled-water requests fell 98%. The benefits flowed back to Scottish Water, which realized a one-year savings of £12 million. By capitalizing on digital data and analytics, the company was remodeled from an old-style utility into a digital showcase.
Great CX improvements are not only aimed at consumers. They can also occur internally, delivering services that employees need to be productive. At Thomson Reuters, the $11 billion news and information services company, the enterprise business systems division saw the need for a transformation of its own. Among the issues: its enterprise systems were hurting service, and unexpected problems sapped the division’s productivity. Staff dedicated 80% of their time to maintaining systems day-to-day, typically spending their time managing unplanned events.
TCS helped the division simplify its business processes and understand costs. Activities that weren’t producing results were shelved. By organizing data and applying analytics, TCS helped the division become more sophisticated in planning and decision-making. The changes have helped the division recruit talent and improve its processes so teams can carry out more strategic activities. The staff now has far more time to think through the design of programs that deliver a better customer experience.
The efforts at Scottish Water and Thomson Reuters represent strong moves to address upfront CX challenges. To develop a world-class CX, organizations must assemble a diverse range of experts in data and analytics, design thinking and the business in which the company operates. Analytics can help them determine which CX design choices are the best investments. Finally, design processes should yield prototypes to test. Together they can determine which customer experience provides the greatest ROI.