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James Stirk, FinancialForce Vice President, General Manager, EMEA

Data – A collection of facts (numbers, words, measurements, observations, etc) that has been translated into a form that computers can process.

No matter what industry you work in, you will have almost definitely come across stories about how data is taking over, or changing the face of the world we live in. From the way in which we consume media to how global organisations are operating; data has become a powerful currency in an ever-connected world. With the introduction of GDPR and other global privacy laws, data compliance has also come into focus.

Data-driven organisations are now dominating the business scene, with organisations of all sizes placing huge amounts of importance on the value of data. In fact, some of the biggest businesses in the world have achieved success through nothing more than organising data.

Uber is now the largest minicab firm in the world without owning a single car, AirBnB is the biggest provider of accommodation without owning any property, and AliBaba is one of the biggest retailers without any inventory.

Each of these businesses have achieved success through their understanding of the importance of data. But it is not simply about the collection of data that has made these organisations successful, it is finding the relevant data, understanding its implications and extracting value from it.

The primary role of data is to empower business leaders to make decisions based entirely on the facts, trends and statistical numbers. However, with every action within a business, whether it is an internal process or an interaction with a customer, generating data, this can soon become a complex and tangled web. It is up to business leaders to sift through the information and pick out the correct data that will have the most impact on their business.

Retaining customers is becoming more of a challenge for businesses with rivals looking to compete on products, customer service and price. Organisations must now work twice as hard to satisfy and retain their customers. This predicament can conjure up numerous questions for organisations, most of which can go unanswered; such as what can be done now and, in the future, to drive customer renewals and ultimately an organisations profitability?

By harnessing data to put customers first in three key ways, businesses can transform their operations and see success on unprecedented scales.

Focus on Customer Experience

For many business leaders the overall customer experience is a reflection on their organisation as a whole. A superior product can often be overlooked simply because the customer service was not on par with expectations. In fact, in a world where organisations are often offering similar products at competing price points, customer service is the only aspect on which businesses can distinguish themselves.

To achieve customer satisfaction, a comprehensive understanding of the overall customer journey is required; working out what aspects of the customer experience is most critical to your customer. Has the product/service been delivered? Has the customer experienced any issues? Have they called support? Are any issues resolved and are they now happy with the product? By using data to understand a customer’s needs throughout their journey, businesses can boost satisfaction and distinguish themselves from their competitors.

Get predictive about customer data;

It is well-understood that acquiring new customers can cost more to a business than retaining current customers, with recent research finding the cost is five times greater. While retaining customers is one of the most difficult aspects of any organisation, it can pay huge dividends. Simply increasing customer retention spend by 5% can increase a company’s profitability by up to 95%. More and more business leaders are focusing on key customer success metrics: time-to-value, product adoption rates, project status, usage rates, and service call patterns can all help predict future rates of renewal, churn, and expansion.

Data and technology make it far easier to keep track of vital customer data. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now helping organisations process customer data quickly and far more accurately without human input and enabling greater insights. Furthermore, new technologies allow organisations to make decisions in real-time, not having to wait for a monthly or quarterly review allowing organisations to capitalise on strengths and focus on areas that need more attention to ensure your customers are getting the best possible service and experience.

Centralise customer data

To set your organisation up for success it is vital to have the foundations and processes in place to ensure the relevant data is accessible to the right teams at the right time. A truly customer-centric operation will ensure all back-office functions are connected to the front-end, creating a single customer record.

With a master customer database, business leaders have a unified, seamless overview from customer acquisition, quoting, and contracts to internal financial operations and fulfilment. Every conversation, every transaction, every quote, every request, and every documented customer interaction will be accessible from one place. By creating a centralised home for customer data, teams are empowered when speaking to customers and able to provide high-quality customer service, while business leaders are able to develop strategic insights into products and pricing.

Organisations, however, cannot be expected to change overnight. Organisational growth requires time, consideration of potential new challenges and evaluation of financial information and systems. Organisational change is a huge challenge but by putting customers and data at the forefront of every action, businesses can transform their operations, boost customer satisfaction and retention and ultimately, increase their bottom line.


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