There is ongoing talk about understanding customers’ needs and exceeding expectations in a constantly evolving and uncertain landscape. But what does that actually mean? With the consumer shift to digital only being fast-tracked by the national lockdowns, there is mounting pressure on businesses to garner more holistic customer insights to accelerate growth.

The ultimate aim is to deliver a fit-for-purpose product that involves a seamless user experience. Data and analytics is undoubtedly playing an increasingly important role in creating a 360-degree view of the customer, by empowering intelligent decision-making through data-driven insights. But that is often far easier said than done, so that begs the question – ‘where do we begin?’

Democratisation of data to overcome siloes

Data siloes occur when only certain ‘gatekeepers’ have access to data sets and sources. This creates a major obstacle in creating a 360-degree view of the customer as access to data is prohibitive and there are very often multiple versions of data, meaning one department could interpret it differently to the other. This results in wasted resources and limits productivity and can be eliminated through a centralised system with fewer models to allow greater access to data through democratisation.

This means shifting away from the outdated model where the data is more freely accessible to all job functions within the organisation, rather than being in the hands of the select few gatekeepers such as IT and accounts, for example. The best approach is from the top down – getting the C-suite and executive level management to continuously utilise the data until it becomes second nature to do so.

This will have a natural trickle-down effect on the rest of the organisation, until data becomes a core function of almost every position. No matter the data and analytics regime, it will never reach its full potential and may very well be doomed to failure if the data is not democratised.

Split-second decision making through API

Application programming interface (API) is an effective means of verifying customer data at lightning speed and with pinpoint accuracy and is exceptionally valuable in numerous industries. Take short-term motor insurance for example. The market provides a needs-based product, with rapid, in-the-moment transactions where speed and convenience is king. It is therefore essential to remain front-of-mind and to be in the right place at the right time when a customer requires cover at short notice.

In a fraction of a second, API helps to verify a myriad of data such as vehicle details, driver identity, driving licences, payments and claims history. This ultimately enables insurers to not only provide cost-effective temporary insurance policies in a matter of seconds, but also to provide it to a wider range of more accurately verified customers, while reducing fraud, which impacts the cost of premiums.

Enhancing customer relationships through data-driven insights

A data-driven customer relationship management (CRM) programme based on purchasing trends is another effective route to building a 360-degree customer profile, as it helps a business to build an intimate knowledge of its customers’ needs and expectations.

Using our short-term motor insurance example again – high quality CRM data enables the policy provider to recognise different need states of one-off usage vs. high repeat multiple usage. For example, a student taking out a one-day policy to borrow their parent’s car, vs. a trade professional who experiences seasonal peaks and troughs in demand for business and is regularly required to add and remove named temporary drivers on the company van policy.

The aim of the CRM programme in this case is to not only reward repeat customers with preferential offers, but to make it as easy as possible for them to redeem. The last thing a loyal customer wants from a CRM programme is a promotional discount that comes with strings attached. They want value for money and an enjoyable purchase journey and the best way to achieve that is to remove all barriers for them so that they can redeem at the checkout – no promo codes or other gimmicks!

A data-driven future

Data and analytics will always be a constantly evolving concept – even more so as technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate. The most important action for any organisation is to ensure that they are utilising clean, high-quality data that accurately represents the needs and expectations of their customer base.

This ultimately builds relationships and emotional connections with existing customers, while attracting and winning new ones. From a commercial perspective, this will lead to a measurable increase in brand loyalty and repeat purchase. More importantly, an organisation’s customer base will have benefitted from a value-added and relevant offering in a time where spending power is significantly reduced and where alternative options are easily accessible.

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