We live in a business environment filled with buzzwords. “Thought leadership.” “Best practices.” “Leveraging relationships.” “Core competencies.” These are just a few you might hear on a daily basis. Buzzwords get a lot of flak for being meaningless, but in truth, the meaning is all dependent on the intent behind the phrase. When you are told to create “customer delight” you may cringe — but in fact, this concept of going beyond customer satisfaction and exceeding customer expectations can have a very real impact on your bottom line.

 In today’s social media-driven, mobile and online world, customer decisions are made more quickly than ever. When a customer is delighted, they often share that delight in a review or a social media post — highly sought-after word-of-mouth recommendations that can then translate into increased sales and revenue growth. So customer delight, obviously, is a resource desired by most businesses.

Being tasked with creating customer delight — or providing your team with the tools to create it — may seem a less-than-desirable task. But the data needed to foster that delight is more widely available than ever. Big data and predictive analytics have become just as important to serving customers as they have to most other aspects of business. The key is leveraging that data to create delightful customer experiences. But how?

Customer Experience Management

Gartner defines Customer Experience Management (CEM) as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.” Those interactions take a number of forms, both active and passive. The data from those interactions is then funneled into disparate silos, which, in a best-case scenario, come together to create a total overall picture of the customer experience. Those silos can include:

Customer Relationship Management Tool. If your company still uses your CRM simply as a way to manage leads, you’re wasting good data. A good CRM can capture all kinds of data, from demographic information to purchasing history, all of which is important for maximizing customer relationships. Combining varying data streams can begin to create a pattern that will help anticipate needs. For instance, an address change can indicate a business expansion or a downsizing, while new names in a company database can indicate growth or turnover. Combining that information with the customer’s purchase history can help paint a more complete picture. 

 If your company still uses your CRM simply as a way to manage leads, you’re wasting good data.

Age-related data is also useful in a time when millennials work side by side with Baby Boomers and Gen-X, whose purchasing, work and consumption habits vary greatly. Every piece of information you can gather about a customer — interests, interactions, history, trends — can not only help identify the triggers that lead to a purchase, but give you the ability to create triggers and provide more individualized and better service. 

Web Analytics. You are, of course, tracking customer behavior on your website through an analytics program (and if you’re not, stop reading this and implement one immediately). Are you using that data, though? Not just glancing at it to see how many visitors you’ve had, but really using it? Knowing which pages your customers spend the most time on can provide sharp insight into which products are of the most interest. Engagement is critical – a page that gets a lot of quick clicks may not be as important as one with a longer time-on-page percentage. Search terms are also key — knowing what gets people to your site is important in keeping them there. Knowing when, where and why people are landing on your site, and what their path is once they get there are all critical pieces of data that can be used to not only drive traffic, but create a better experience.

Customer Feedback Data. Collecting information on customers should not be a purely passive endeavor, and in fact, the customer survey is the most common source of customer experience management data. If you are not asking customers what they want, you are missing out on an important data source. Customer surveys are important, and they don’t need to be complicated — in this fast-paced age, shorter is better. Get out in front of your customers and see what they like and don’t like, what they want and what they need. 

Unstructured Data. A great deal of customer information comes from unstructured data sources — social media, call-center transcripts, blog comments, open-ended comments on a survey. In fact, most companies find the majority of their customer data is actually of the unstructured form, making an automated text analytics system valuable. Such systems can provide insight into those comments and transcripts by finding patterns and themes, and turning them into usable, actionable data.

Predictive Maintenance

The delighted customer is not simply the one you know and whose buying needs you have anticipated. Customers need service as well, and every fast and painless service call, every maintenance need anticipated, creates customer delight. Companies like Nordstrom and Tesla are vaunted for their excellent customer service. Delight your customer by taking care of them. Some tools that can help:

Machine-to-Machine Combining big data with mobility allows for immediate decision-making. When employees in the field have access to data when and where they need it through mobile phones or tablets, apps and IoT-connected devices, they can make decisions in real time accordingly. Predictive analytics allow connected devices to signal for maintenance. Necessary supplies can be scheduled to arrive in conjunction with scheduled service calls, eliminating multiple trips.

Mobile Processes. Combining constantly changing real-time data from the field with the structured data from your office systems can provide valuable insights. Sales calls, service calls and on-site paper processing all become faster and more efficient. Entire new business processes can be implemented straight from a mobile phone. Putting the information in the hands of the people who can act on that intelligence is a powerful differentiator.

Ensuring customer delight is no longer just the job of the sales team. The entire enterprise is responsible for creating positive customer experiences; the kind that keep existing customers happy and bring new ones on board. Fortunately, customer delight is also not as nebulous a concept as it sounds, and big data, predictive analytics and business intelligence all play a role in creating it. By knowing your customers, anticipating and meeting their needs, and making their interactions with you simple and painless, you can be a customer delight leader. 

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of The Imaging Channel.

is editorial director of BPO Media’s publications Workflow and The Imaging Channel, and senior analyst for BPO Research. As a professional writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in public relations and has a master's degree in communication arts.