What does stale sliced bread have in common with stale, segmented data?


By Kerim Akgonul, Senior Vice President of Products, Pegasystems

Working from home has been an adjustment for everyone. It’s been great having more time to spend with my wife and four kids. But with our kitchen in such close proximity to my “office,” I often find myself hungrier than usual. Just the other day I popped in to make a sandwich and discovered that all our bread was stale. That got me thinking. Bread that’s past its prime is no delicacy, but it won’t hurt you. But when customer data is stale and sliced up within channels, it can harm your business. Here’s why.

Impersonal customer engagement
Customers want to be treated like individuals. But if your agents only have access to older, historical, or stale customer data, they can’t address the current needs of their customers or their unique circumstances. Older data isn’t inherently bad. It is a customer’s history, but it’s only part of the story.
To resolve a customer’s issue quickly and effectively, agents need real-time, fresh, consolidated data. They don’t need data that’s sliced into silos. They need data that holistically represents the customer’s journey and provides them with the best guidance. For instance, if a rep knows a customer just spent 18 minutes on hold or was passed from agent to agent three times before they picked up the line, they will approach the situation with more empathy. Or if that customer has three different products with a company – they want to have one discussion, not three. Customer circumstances change moment to moment, and agents (and websites) need up-to-date information and a 1:1 approach so customers feel valued and heard.

Inability to be proactive and preemptive
When current data is combined with historical customer data, companies can better understand a customer’s patterns and preferences to predict future needs. And they can be appropriately proactive instead of just reactive – before that data becomes stale.
For instance, if one of your customers recently sent you several emails asking to defer their credit card payments because they’ve been furloughed, and you offer them a second credit card based on outdated information, you seem tone deaf. But with access to 1:1 personalization tools that prompt the next-best-action your reps can anticipate why a customer is likely contacting them and maybe offer them an automatic 3-month deferment on their payment plan interest free before that valued customer has to ask for it. That’s differentiating.

Missed opportunities to grow value
Without context, companies are missing the opportunity to build personal relationships with their customers and grow their lifetime value. Instead, companies take a one-size-fits all approach to marketing – treating all their customers the same way – and flood their valued customers’ inboxes with irrelevant offers that only alienate them from the brand – especially during challenging times like these.
Instead, companies can more effectively use their resources by capturing data in real-time, from any channel, and make it available to a “central brain” that can analyze and intelligently suggest the next best action. This helps reps determine what that customer really needs to make the interaction more customized.
For instance, after the 2008 global crisis, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) needed to differentiate itself to attract and retain valued customers. Using the concept of “Personology,” the bank rearchitected its customer approach using real-time data and decisioning to anticipate and deliver on what customers really need. The always-on centralized “brain” makes next-best-action recommendations tailored for more than 17 million individual customers.

When COVID-19 hit in the spring, RBS was prepared. They had the technology in place to handle the surge of complex queries with a complete window into each of their customers’ situations, even with their employees working from home. While so many companies are struggling these days, RBS is taking a true 1:1 customer approach to make sure every customer interaction is valuable, relevant, and timely. They even identified thousands of National Health Service employees in the UK and provided these heroes with specialized service.

A better way to build your business
A 1:1 approach to customer engagement isn’t just good for customers, it’s highly profitable for businesses as well. A strong 1:1 engagement program can help organizations retain high-value customers, convert cross- and up-sell opportunities, and drive significant incremental revenue. According to Forrester’s recent Total Economic Impact Study, Pega’s empathy-driven, customer-first model helped organizations create $677M in new revenue over three years, and avoid more than $578M in customer churn losses. That’s a lot of bread.

Though stale, sliced bread may be good for feeding the birds, stale, siloed data isn’t useful to anyone. So, don’t compromise your customer relationships when you can easily improve them and boost your bottom line. And don’t settle for stale, sliced bread just because you’re hungry. You deserve better.


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