Operational Data Gaps Compromise Customer Experience

by Mike Hunter


While digital marketing technologies and engagement channels multiply, many marketers remain concerned that they are still not delivering what customers want most: a seamless, frictionless and individualized buying and problem-solving experience.

According to new research from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and SAP Hybris, more than a third of marketers (39 percent) believe their technology investments have met expectations in some select areas, such as measurement and customer interaction. But they appear to be falling short when it comes to connecting content, commerce, conversation and campaigns with back-end operational realities, supply chain logistics and organizational capabilities that will ultimately impact customer experience.

Entitled “Context, Commerce and Customer: Best Practices to Exceed Expectations,” the study highlights an extremely limited effort to align and integrate marketing and commerce technologies, but data sourcing and unification is limited to frontline or field marketing groups only. Just over half of respondents (55 percent) are working on systems to extend marketing’s view of the customer to include insights from all impact and interaction points in the customer journey. Regrettably, 17 percent are not convinced this fully integrated, live data ecosystem view via dashboards is possible in their organizations.

“With the advancement of marketing technologies and tools in recent years, marketers have benefitted from greater transparency into the measurement of traditional marketing practices,” states Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing for the CMO Council. “The new challenge will be to extend the processes and platforms that power the customer experience beyond the comfortable walls of marketing. This will be the point at which customer experience stops being a marketing campaign and becomes a focus of a business and a true competitive advantage.”

Key to this experience evolution will be a shift in organizational thinking around data and the intelligence it delivers. According to executive respondents, the majority of data being collected and utilized by marketing and commerce teams is typically extracted from marketing or sales channels. Among the top sources of data and intelligence are contact-level data (81 percent), campaign data (69 percent), CRM system data (68 percent), billing/payment data (50 percent) and sales data (49 percent).

What seems to be needed is more effective sharing and use of data and intelligence. But marketers admit that some data critical to understanding the customer’s entire journey and engagement with a brand is trapped in organizational silos and harder to aggregate and reach. Among those areas of customer intelligence that need to be better harnessed and also represent those sources least accessed today are real-time (machine learning) predictive analytics (8 percent), commerce data (11 percent), psychographic data (12 percent), HR insights (13 percent) and predictive (batch-based) analytics (16 percent).

Jamie Anderson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at SAP, Hybris points out that, for marketers to change their pools of information from a marketing to a customer focus “demands that the entire organization — from HR to operations and the supply chain — be connected and aligned around a live view of the customer as an individual … a view that takes the past, present and future state of that individual into context in real-time.”

Top Attributes of the Customer Experience 
Attribute and percentage of respondents who identify it as important
Fast response times to issues, needs or complaints 75%
Consistency of experience across channels 56%
Knowledgeable staff ready to assist whenever/wherever the customer needs 52%
A person to speak with, regardless of time or location 36%
Relevant communications, promotions, recommendations and products 36%


Top Points of Impact by Marketing & Commerce Technology Solutions 
Attribute and percentage of respondents who identify it as important
Increased measurability and trackability of programs and campaigns 42%
Increased engagements across the customer journey 41%
Automated processes and campaigns for fast deployment 25%
Connected the engagement dots 25%
Accelerated the rate of engagement at lowered cost 25%


Top Constraints to Total Data Utilization 
Attribute and percentage of respondents who identify it as important
Data is trapped in organizational silos 21%
The problem isn’t data — it’s getting the organization on board 20%
Too much data to manage effectively 20%
Data is messy 12%
Adopting an organization-wide data and analytics strategy 9%


Top Impacts of Listening Initiatives 
Attribute and percentage of respondents who identify it as important
Guided decisions around content, channels and engagements 44%
Deepened relationships by creating new conversations with customers 42%
Improved results and return on marketing campaigns 32%
Helped the entire organization better understand the customer 30%
Created new products, services or solutions to meet customer needs 28%

The study is based on insights from a survey of 170 global marketing leaders, fielded in the first half of 2016. Of the respondents, 47 percent hold a title of Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Marketing or Senior Vice President of Marketing or Commerce, with 27 percent overseeing complex global marketing teams of more than 100 people. Some 39 percent of respondents hail from large enterprises with more than $1 billion in revenue, with 42 percent hailing from business-to-business organizations, 21 percent from business-to-consumer companies and 37 percent from hybrid organizations (business-to-business-to-consumer model).


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