Exploring Data-Driven Customer Science in The Context of Great Customer Experience

August 29, 2017

The following post is part of a series that will help inform readers about the importance of Customer Experience. The series will provide best practices and tactics for turning your customers into loyal advocates of your brand.

I came across the term, “data-driven customer science” for the first time when I read it in an article that appears in the American Marketing Association. I’m not quite sure why specifically, but it was love at first read.

“This is where a new structure, born of data-driven customer science, comes in,” the author, Emilie Kroner, tells us. “The seven pillars of customer centricity provide a framework for action, giving companies the insights needed to track, measure and improve in seven core areas.” Kroner, during the time in which the article was written, was working for Dunnhumby as their head of organization engagement for the consumer markets.

However, for the conversation here today, we will focus on the very first focus area Kroner covers in the article: experience.  

“Make the customer experience easy, enjoyable and convenient. Companies that excel in customer experience make their customers so happy that they want to share their positive interactions with your brand.”

I’m not sure about you, but these sentiments — easy, enjoyable, and convenient — are so true when it comes to being on the receiving end of customer experience. It not only makes good business sense, but as a customer myself, I can absolutely connect with it. It’s incredibly easy these days to share your opinions about brand experiences thanks to the smartphone and social media.

More often than not I’m likely to share an opinion about my experience under only two circumstances:

  1. When the experience is truly and authentically delightful.
  2. When the experience angered me to the point of needing my voice to be heard.

Mediocre experiences tend to fall to the wayside.

This core pillar — experience — ties well into what caught my eye in the first place: data-driven customer science.

Replicating a truly and authentically delightful experience is thanks in no small part to science.

“Customer science” is a relatively new term, but when you break it down to its basic parts, it’s not a new practice, and essentially, what we are talking about when we say improve the experience you offer customers by making changes to it based on story the data is telling you.

For example, you notice on satisfaction surveys and across social networks that customers have trouble deciding on which of your products to purchase due to lack of variety. Tie this back to purchasing patterns and you can conclude that due to the lack of variety, the business could potentially lose 35 percent of sales. 

I wouldn’t say that customer science is as repeatable as other science-based experiments due customer preferences and changing buying behaviors, but the approach and framework is. Find that story in the data that, if improved or optimized, will positively impact the overall experience. With scientific precision and certainty, you can then continuously create and foster great experiences.  

One definition I found spells out customer science this way:

"Customer science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of customers through observation and experience." -USTECH Solutions

[Source: What is Customer Science – And Why Should You Care?]

Thinking bigger picture, customer science supplies some impactful business outcomes, according to USTECH Solutions:

  • Strategy Identify and analyze holes in the customer journey that when improved can satisfy an unmet customer need/want.
  • Quality Always ensure you meet and exceed customer expectation and get rid of the mindset that a universal experience is fit for every individual customer. The more you can personalize and cater every experience, the greater the outcome.
  • ProfitCustomers will notice the small details the brand makes to their experience, which are a win-win for you and the customer — the more fine-tuned their experience, the more products and services you sell and the lower the costs to market that product are if you know how to hit the target every time.
  • EfficiencyCustomer data can help us support decisions across the business, and one area in particular can be vastly improved when the data lense is applied: operational efficiency. Data can expose the weak processes and ineffective tactics to acquire customers.

Remember the saying, “the customer is always right”? While customer expectations have certainly changed and become savvier shoppers since this saying was the motto of many customer service departments, customer science does not fall from from this same idea.

Some experts say that customer science can be thought of as simply going above and beyond customer’s expectations to ensure their overall happiness remains high. As part of this mindset, companies should know their customers better than anyone else — what motivates them, what influences them, what contributes to repeatable purchasing behavior actions.

Put simply…

Customer science is the best way to keep up with the vastly changing needs of today’s customer. By dissecting business and customer data such as buying behavior patterns or tangible feedback and coupling it with your organization can be at the helm of staying on the pulse of what your customers want and need at all points of their lifecycle. 


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