Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterApril 15, 2020


For brands, a huge benefit of a customer’s digital footprint is it provides them with a better understanding of the customer as an individual.

The plethora of online user data that brands collate – combined with offline data – is supposed to facilitate a more consistent and tailored consumer engagement. Yet, how do consumers really feel about their ever-growing data trail?

Our recent Experience 2030 research suggests that the gathering and use of personal data is being met with a strong sense of concern by consumers. While 46 percent of respondents are willing to trade personal data for free products and services, 73 percent felt concerned about how brands are using their data. So, how do brands turn the tide and win back their trust?

A concerned customer

The volume of data available to organisations opens up a world of possibilities within the customer experience, for both the consumer and the brand. However, most brands are not delivering on this potential yet. Instead, their approach has left consumers cold, with 71 percent believing companies shouldn’t even be allowed to share their data with other brands. This is likely to stem from the fact that 73 percent of customers are questioning exactly how brands use their data. Unless you’re able to take this data, apply analytics to drive better decisions and execute those decisions in the moment, you aren’t going to keep up with the competition when it comes to customer experience.

This uncertainty has manifested into a feeling of distrust amongst consumers. It’s now reached a point where 61 percent feel that they have no control over the level of privacy they need for themselves, their family or their children.

A combination of recent data scandals and widely publicised hacks may have contributed to this feeling of concern. However, it’s also worth considering that many consumers may also feel they aren’t getting a fair exchange when they share their data.

So, what are brands doing wrong? Why is it that despite access to so much valuable data and significant investments in analytics and data science, customers are still not receiving the type of tailored and personalised experiences they expect in exchange for sharing their data.

Unfortunately for most organisations, the process of filtering through vast amounts of data, spotting patterns in customer behaviour and then using this information to drive decision-making is a painstakingly slow process. By the time the insights are deployed into customer interactions, they lack the relevance and context required to engage customers, leading to frustrating customer experiences and limited business value.

Showing customers products and services they’ve just purchased from you, or that they’re no longer interested in, is a sure-fire way to annoy customers and lose their trust.

Brands must find a way to bring their operational structure in line with their vision of a customer-centric future and create a customer insight process that accelerates the time from data to insight to decision to impact in a rapid, repeatable and scalable way.

You’ve got to make that change

To achieve this, organisations need a way to rapidly bring together a complete view of their customer.

This covers what they have done across all channels, past and present, and predicting what they may do in the future. It involves combining online data, offline data and even third-party purchased or collected data with data quality processes that ensure that your customer data is trustworthy, valuable and ready for analysis.


Analytics needs to be democratised with marketers given access to advanced analytics delivered to them in an uncomplicated, easy to consume way. Analytical decision helpers should be deployed to embed real intelligence directly into the marketing process to support marketers in crafting messages, offers and content across channels.

Predictive analytics and machine learning should ensure that accurate insights are delivered at the right time, dramatically increasing the reach and value of data and enabling brands to make evidence-based decisions at every stage of the customer journey.

Finally, this all needs to be operationalised, so it becomes an ongoing, dynamic process, embedded directly into the customer interaction.

Insights derived from self-learning customer and behaviour analysis must be fuelled by real-time contextual data from every customer interaction, to dynamically refresh every customer recommendation, offer or message and deliver instant experiences that are highly relevant.

By providing such a personalised service, consumers will have greater visibility into how their data is being used, giving them a greater incentive to share.

Making the impossible possible

This may well seem like a daunting task for a lot of brands, but it’s proven both feasible and worthwhile by ICA Banken. Offering financial services to Swedish customers, ICA Banken has committed to providing a personalised marketing approach to each of their 750,000 customers. As is the case with many retailers in the digital age, the brand’s interactions with their customers are largely digital.

Using SAS Customer Intelligence 360, the bank has been able to collect the customer’s data in real-time, tracking the user’s behaviour on the app and how they got there in the first place. By collating this digital behaviour, the bank has been able to gauge the core interests of each consumer and provide them with customised offers in response to this.

The impact has been immense. ICA Banken’s customer engagement increased by 70 percent and their efficiency levels have improved several times since adopting the new approach. Where it used to take them weeks to design a marketing campaign, it can now be produced in a matter of days. This is a level of efficiency which all brands can achieve by collecting, integrating and, crucially, analysing the correct customer data.

Providing data has to be a two-way street where both the customer and the brand benefit. For the customer, offering up their personal data should be the gateway to a more personal experience. This can only be achieved if brands accelerate the process of collecting data, analysing it for valuable insights and making data-driven decisions, even in real time if needed. As demonstrated by ICA Banken, the results are worth the effort.


Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterApril 1, 2019


These days, an ever-increasing number of customer interactions are taking place over digital channels and every digital interaction offers an incredible source of customer intelligence for organisations to tap into. 

With every digital visit, customers leave a valuable trail of digital breadcrumbs. These breadcrumbs give organisations the ability to follow each individual customer journey and each customer’s experience along the way. With every browse, click, like, and share your customer creates their own digital footprint, and with their consent, brands can harness this rich source of data to anticipate and deliver on the needs of each individual customer, optimise each customer’s journey, and unlock new competitive value for the organisation.

Of course, this data must be treated as personal data and companies should provide comprehensive cookie notices to educate users on how they plan to use their personal data, on an opt-in basis.

However, despite many customers still opting-in to share this data, organisations are struggling to tap into this readily available digital intelligence in a meaningful and effective way.

There are five recurring challenges that create barriers to unlocking the true value of digital data.

1. Tagging is still the predominant method for digital analytics tools to capture data. Not only is there cost and time involved in creating, testing, and deploying these tags, but they need to be constantly updated; every time there’s a new area of interest or there’s changes to the website. This invariably leads to delays in campaigns, missing data and lost opportunities.

2. Many digital analytics solutions focus on visits, page views, clicks, and campaign triggers. The data collected is rarely at an individual customer level. This makes it really challenging to join digital data up with offline data from CRM or single customer view systems, where data needs to be held at individual customer level.

3. Too many organisations are focused only on behavioural data – what a customer clicked on and what they saw, rather than experiential data. Experiential data could include what a customer didn’t see, what price they were quoted or what products were not in stock. Collecting behavioural data without experiential data often leads to an incomplete or misleading picture of cause and effect.

4. The number of digital channels, technologies, and techniques for measuring Customer Experience within those channels has exploded, but the data and insight is held in siloes making it difficult to obtain a joined-up view of the Customer Experience.

5. By the time data is extracted from the digital channels and analysed for insights, the customer has already completed their interaction. Organisations are still reporting on the past and unable to action data in real time to impact the Customer Experience ‘in the moment’.


Organisations leading the field in digital intelligence are opting for a single view of individual customer level behavioural and experiential data across digital channels that can be easily joined up to offline data, to gain a much deeper insight into the customer journey.

Being able to analyse data at this level of detail is enabling these organisations to go beyond the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of traditional digital analytics and answer the more valuable ‘who’ and ‘why’ questions. Who are my most and least valuable customers? Why do they behave as they do on my digital properties? What simple changes could I make to alter some of this behaviour?

By capturing granular, time-stamped customer level data from every digital interaction about everywhere your customer went, everything they did and didn’t do, and everything they see and didn’t see, organisations can optimise their Customer Experience and create competitive advantage.

Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterOctober 25, 2018


I was honoured to be asked to judge at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards, which were recently held at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Research by Gartner predicts that businesses will start to compete more on Customer Experience than price, so the awards serve a very important purpose in guiding organisations on what best practice looks like.

The awards recognise and celebrate the delivery of outstanding Customer Experience and is the biggest CX event of its kind in the world, with over 900 attending this year’s finals.

Judging the Best use of Customer Insight and Feedback category, I had the privilege to listen and learn from CX professionals across a range of different industries – from small and medium-sized businesses to some of the UK’s most well-known brands.

The main purpose of insight and feedback is to acquire accurate information to fuel decisions about where best to focus resources in order to deliver the best impact for both customer and the business. For this reason, I was particularly interested in how organisations were capturing the feedback, analysing it for actionable insights, and measuring the size, shape, and potential return on investment for opportunities identified.

Some of the small to mid-size and B2B organisations had the opportunity to talk and listen directly to customers, working collaboratively with them to shape products, services, and experiences. One of the finalists even brought a customer along with them on the day. Involving customers directly in the process not only provides the potential to meet your customer needs more closely than the competition, but also strengthens customer relationships and loyalty.

Some of our finalists worked for organisations that have millions of customers – working collaboratively with customers and understanding individual customer feedback is more difficult at greater scale. These days, customers interact with brands in many ways: social media and digital channels, phone, email, webchats, letters, surveys and reviews, and in branches and stores.

While it’s not feasible to work collaboratively with each customer as the organisation grows, each of these interactions contains rich insight into customer intent and sentiment, what customers want, and how they feel about the products, services, and experiences being delivered.

A common practice is to ask employees on the front line to provide anecdotal feedback on what customers are saying. Workplace by Facebook and other alternatives are becoming popular tools to capture this type of feedback. Manually reviewing and scoring a number of customer interactions each week is also a standard practice, as are customer satisfaction surveys.

The challenge with each of these methods is the lack of qualitative, statistical feedback to drive effective decision making. It’s very difficult to get a proper view of customer insight by manually sifting through thousands, or even millions, of interactions or relying on anecdotal evidence. 

In fact, I was surprised that only a handful of our finalists took an analytical approach to customer insight and feedback. Research we carried out earlier this year revealed that, even among organisations that do take an analytical approach, there is still a lot more they could be doing to use analytics to enhance Customer Experience.

With advances in technology and computing power, this is an area where Artificial Intelligence can play a huge role. Natural Language Processing combines machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and linguistics and can automate and quantify customer feedback and insights across every customer interaction, regardless of channel.

Natural Language Processing allows us to talk to machines as if they were humans. It gives machines the ability to derive insights from human language, both spoken and written. It can listen to text and hear speech, interpret it, measure sentiment, and determine which parts are most important.

It can help organisations with a large number of customer interactions to automatically garner insights, trends, and patterns, root causes and issues, sentiment and intent from each and every interaction.

Capturing insights at scale allows you to accurately quantify the size and shape of the challenge and prioritise where investments will deliver the most impact, both to customers and to the business. What’s more, this level of insight down to an individual customer, gives businesses the power to make more effective and profitable decisions about customer strategy and fuel 1:1 customer experiences.

Royal Bank of Scotland uses Natural Language Processing from SAS to help them in their bid to become the number one bank for customer service, trust, and advocacy by 2020. The bank uses the solution to analyse data from emails, surveys, Whatsapp messages, and call centre conversations to identify root causes of customer dissatisfaction and implement improvements.

To compete on Customer Experience, companies need to consistently deliver a better experience. To do that, they need to understand the experiences they’re delivering today. Capturing and analysing all customer interactions and systematically incorporating insights about customer needs into the decision-making processes must become a priority for all organisations wanting to compete in CX.

For more about the value of Natural Language Processing and how SAS can help, read our white paper on seeing the voice of the customer.

Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterOctober 3, 2018


Tiffany Carpenter is Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK, and is a Judge at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.

I’m delighted and excited to be on the judging panel at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards, which are taking place on October 11.

The entries are in and more than 100 companies have been shortlisted – a clear signal that Customer Experience has gone mainstream and organisations are recognising the positive impact and business value that can ensue.

Having reviewed the entries for the Best use of Insight and Feedback category, I noticed several recurring themes in the submissions that made the shortlist.

There is increasing acceptance that Customer Experience is the new battleground for organisations, and a study by Forrester found that CX leaders delivered compound annual revenue growth rates (CAGR) of 17 percent, compared to just three percent for CX laggards. 

Gartner  also reports that nearly all companies will primarily compete on Customer Experience rather than price in the coming years. Yet many companies struggle to tie their Customer Experience strategies to genuine business results and end up losing momentum in their efforts to optimise the CX as a result.

To secure ongoing investment and achieve the growth rates suggested by Forrester, it’s critical to provide the proof points back to the C-Suite of how investment in Customer Experience initiatives are driving tangible results.

What I noticed about each of the shortlisted organisations in this category was that all had clearly identified the goals and objectives of their customer insight and feedback initiative, and were able to align it to business strategy. What’s more, each of the organisations were able to articulate the major wins from their Customer Experience initiative across a range of metrics including increase in revenue, lifetime value of customers, customer satisfaction and advocacy, reduced churn, and fewer complaints.

These are the operational fundamentals for most businesses, and therefore will not only support ongoing investment but highlight the case for much wider ownership of Customer Experience – including at senior levels, within all organisations.

Another recurring theme was the integrated approach to collection, analysis, distribution, and action across a variety of customer data and feedback. We’ve never had more detailed data about what consumers want, how they act, and what their experience is as they interact with the organisation. Meanwhile, new capabilities such as big data, machine learning, and the Internet of Things are giving companies exciting opportunities to listen to and understand their customers in ways that were not possible just a few years ago.

Yet detail is one thing; clarity and actionable insights that enable organisations to become more responsive to customer needs and deliver more compelling experiences is quite another. The organisations that made the shortlist were able to look beyond the fog of data to identify the insights and actions that would make the biggest difference to their customers and deliver tangible business results.

Companies have been struggling to overcome customer service and data silos for decades. The operating model for most companies is organised around business functions, products, geography, or channels rather than around the customer.

These silos naturally lead to  fragmentation in customer-facing processes and are a significant barrier when it comes to delivering a consistent, end-to-end Customer Experience. The reality is that customers don’t think of organisations in terms of business units and channels, they see the organisation as one single brand and they expect relevant, consistent, personalised, and seamless experiences whenever and however they choose to interact.

So I was very impressed to see the creative ways that customer insights and feedback were being used to break down these organisational silos. Those that were most successful in achieving this had ensured their planning and preparation phase included aligning and influencing stakeholders from both within and external to the organisation, ensuring everyone understood the vision, their role, and that ownership and accountability was clearly agreed.

I’m looking forward to meeting each of these organisations and hearing more detail about their initiatives when they present to the judging panel at the awards finals. My key takeaway from this first round is that those organisations that demonstrate business impact and value are most likely to gain additional investment in Customer Experience, and, crucially, will be poised to win the battle for customer hearts and minds.

Find out how SAS is helping Royal Bank of Scotland transform its organisational processes, improve employee engagement, and deliver excellent customer service.

Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterJuly 25, 2018


Tiffany Carpenter is Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK, and is a Judge at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards.


In the ‘Age of Now’, where consumers have more choices than ever and their expectations of brands are higher than before, Customer Experience and being ‘obsessed’ with customers is your only opportunity for competitive advantage.

Remaining relevant in the experience economy

Over the last few years we’ve moved from a product and price-based economy to an experience-based economy, and the experiences that organisations deliver to customers are what drives loyalty and ensures they continue to do business with you. With consumers easily able to compare products and prices in seconds, continuing to compete in this area alone is a race to the bottom.

To avoid this, organisations need to focus more efforts on Customer Experience and that starts with understanding as much as we can about customers – what they want, what they need, what their preferences are, and how they feel.

Avoiding the race to the bottom

Much of this data already exists and is available to organisations today. Every day, across millions of interactions, your customers are sharing valuable insights with you.

Digital channels provide a huge opportunity to capture the digital breadcrumbs or footprints that customers leave with every visit. In fact, technology has advanced far beyond capturing page and content level clicks, to being able to capture granular behavioural and experiential data at individual visitor level, including everything a customer does and everything a customer sees.

Advances in technology and analytics mean it’s easier than ever for organisations to harness this data and glean valuable insights. And what’s more, customers are becoming savvier in this area too. They expect you to know them and deliver relevant and consistent experiences, regardless of the channel they choose to interact with you.

Peering into the past

While many organisations are turning to analytics to better understand customer trends and preferences, the mismatch between perception and reality when it comes to how well they can do this is hampering their ability to deliver on customer expectations.

In our research, more than 90 percent of businesses are unable to use analytics to accurately predict what individual customers will want in future. Yet over half of businesses believe that they are ‘best-in-class’ or even ‘transformational’ when it comes to using customer intelligence to shape their marketing campaigns.

The truth is that most organisations are using customer data and analytics to report on the past. Many of the analytics solutions they rely on are designed to deliver insights as reports, using descriptive and diagnostic analytics. Descriptive analytics tell us what happened, e.g. how many visitors abandoned their basket on our web site last week. Diagnostic analytics try to understand why something happened – why did we see a higher abandoned basket rate?

Both descriptive and diagnostic analytics are very useful, but the information produced in such reports is not actionable. The past has already happened, the customer has already abandoned the website and it’s too late to impact that customer’s experience in a positive way.

Using customer analytics to report on the past is bit like driving a car while only looking in the rear-view mirror: you can see where you’ve been, but you can’t see the road ahead and therefore you’re unable to properly work out your next move.

Closing the gap with predictive analytics

Organisations must become more mature in their use of analytics if they are to compete on Customer Experience. Customer data needs to comes to life by using predictive analytics to anticipate our customers’ next move and behaviours and provide guided experiences that exceed customer expectations.

Predictive analytics identifies patterns in your existing customer data set and extrapolates them to predict what is most likely to happen next. It can be used to quickly and easily drill down to the individual customer level and gives the business the ability to design a tailor-made experience for that customer, with the best likelihood of producing the desired outcome – be that sales, loyalty, or resolution of a complaint.

Apply that ability across every individual in your customer base and you can see how predictive analytics can close the Customer Experience gap.

In an age where Customer Experience is your only competitive advantage, the winners will be those who are able to take action using data faster.

For more information on the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards finalists, click here.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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