Knowing as much as you can about your customers – from their buying behavior to their interaction level – can have a significant impact on your business. This “360-degree view” can help you achieve true differentiation and build exceptional customer loyalty. For example, a bank should be able to instantly get information about its customers – such as accounts, contracts, emails and banking transactions – in order to obtain a complete view of the current situation of the customer coming into a branch office or contacting the bank via a phone call or online service.
Another example may be an insurance or telecommunications call center. Here it can be exceptionally valuable to know how long the consumer has been a customer, when the customer last called in and the reason for the call as well as the last time the customer went online and asked a question about a particular product. And in a call center this information is needed very rapidly, in two seconds or less, so that the customer can be served intelligently, building long-term satisfaction and loyalty.
The 360-degree customer view is in most companies an unattainable state, even though people keep pursuing it like the Holy Grail. Data, more often than not, resides in separate silos based on disparate technologies and may even be documented in different forms, including both structured and unstructured data. To achieve a complete view of a customer, companies need to extract the relevant data from all available sources. Comprehensive search and analytics solutions perform this task by “indexing” the data from all silos and analyzing it in order to offer truly insightful information that’s both actionable and complete – without interfering with the original applications that generate and safeguard this data.
The data is “out there;” but in order to become a customer-oriented company, all customer-facing teams, from marketing to sales to customer service, need to have the ability to pull together, analyze and respond to the data so that it can be truly valuable. This is the effort that builds an actionable 360-degree view of the customer and enables companies to deliver an engaging and personalized customer experience.
When selecting an enterprise search and analytics solution to help you achieve this vital goal, be sure it supports the following three key features.
1. High performance and scalability
Your company must be able to analyze and index vast amounts of data rapidly. This obviously requires the appropriate IT architecture, like a GRID architecture that benefits from extensible “farms” of commodity servers or of high-performance servers. Performance is not only required to index data across all silos but is also crucial to satisfy search requests in real time.
As your user community grows and learns to use the information gained from having more and more data about your customers available, your infrastructure must be scalable and flexible. You must be able to quickly adapt computing power and storage capacities to the evolving needs of your project.
2. Advanced text and semantic analysis
The vast majority of enterprise data is unstructured, mostly textual data. Extracting relevant information from this data requires Natural Language Processing (NLP) in different languages. Keyword search alone and statistical treatment of languages is not sufficient since relevant information may be “hidden” in texts that do not use the same vocabulary as users in their information requests, and the statistical samples within an enterprise may not be sufficiently large or unbiased.
3. Easy connection to many data sources
Your solution must easily and transparently be able to connect to multiple internal and external data sources, whether on premises and/or in the cloud. This is essential for the speed of your projects. To successfully get a 360-degree view of your customers, you will need access to SharePoint, email systems, ERP solutions, enterprise content management systems, websites and more. These connections need to pay special attention to performance and security.
Why is a 360-degree customer view important?
One of the largest banks in the world, Crédit Agricole, is working on offering its employees a 360-degree view of their customers. The hope is that employees in branch offices will be able to know the exact situation of the customer in front of them, their accounts, their share portfolio, their insurance contracts, and more. This will allow Crédit Agricole employees to find the offerings and corresponding procedures most in line with their customers’ requests. The customers connecting to the bank’s online service find themselves in a similar “work place” that allows them to know the current status of all their business with the bank.
The solution that will allow customers and employees to find all of this information is an advanced search engine that is similar to current search engines everyone is familiar with; but unlike most search engines, it is able to extract relevant information from enterprise data for each user rather than dumping millions of “results” on them.
Accomplishing this isn’t an easy task. Crédit Agricole has 60,000 employees and 20 million customers. This means the proposed system has to index eight billion customer transactions a year and more than two billion contracts and documents from Crédit Agricole’s content management systems and about 600 million emails per year.
So is it worth the energy and effort to build a 360-degree view of your customers? Crédit Agricole has determined that the return on investment (ROI) from the amount of time saved by having instantaneous access to this kind of data will generate more than $12.1 million of savings in year two of its usage, growing substantially over the next year. Other ROI calculations are just as staggering. Some telecommunication and Internet providers are reporting achieved savings of up to $66 million per year.
Building a process to achieve a 360-degree customer view will drive exponential value to your business, grow customer loyalty and improve employee productivity. Connecting your disparate systems can achieve a wealth of value that will continue to deliver returns for years to come.
Laurent Fanichet is vice president of marketing for Sinequa, an industry-leading provider of real-time big data search and analytics for Fortune Global 2000 companies and government agencies. Millions of users in the world’s largest and most information-intensive organizations, including Airbus, AstraZeneca, Atos, Biogen, Credit Agricole, Mercer and Siemens, rely on Sinequa to put business-critical information at the fingertips of their employees.