New technologies have dramatically shifted the consumer landscape and now businesses have access to more information about their customers than ever before. In fact, they’re practically drowning in it.

Vast oceans of purchase histories, user interactions and demographics are quietly humming away in corporate server rooms across the globe, promising profound insights for those with the skill and boldness to navigate them. Businesses must realize that analytics is the North Star that will guide companies to better customer engagement, but the challenge is for businesses to transform the seemingly endless amounts of data collected everyday into real-world business solutions that provide a more meaningful customer experience.

In a recent article, Om Malik, founder of GigaOM, writes that, “Combining data, emotion and empathy as part of a narrative is something every company – old, new, young and mature – has to internalize. If they don’t, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history.” With that in mind, here are five concrete ways you can leverage the data you have on your customers to improve the experience by using analytics:

  • Help your customers find you – How do your customers search for you?  How are you helping your customers find your business online? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a science in itself, but companies need to first know what their customers expect from their services so that they can be searchable to them online. Analytics allow businesses to see how their customers are searching online for services in their industry and better position themselves to be found ahead of their competitors.
  • Reach out to your customers – Proactive outbound communications can have a huge effect on your business, but only if they are personalized and relevant. The days of mass text and e-mails are over; customers expect messages tailored to their unique circumstances and analytics allow companies to anticipate customer needs based on past purchases and demographics.
  • Give your customer what they want, when they want, how they want it – How do your customers communicate with your company? Do they contact the brand on social media and then seek help over the phone?  Do they find support on user forums? Analytics allow companies to understand how consumers use the many channels available to them, and tailor their customer experience strategy accordingly.
  • Measure your performance – There are many metrics that businesses use to measure customer experience, but in the end it’s what the customer thinks that matters. Is a certain subset of your customer base having problems with a new feature? Are your customers not getting the help they need on weekends? Analytics are needed to make sense of customer feedback and spot positive trends and areas that need improvement.
  • Improve customer service – Call centers are an area where analytics have helped to make major improvements to the customer experience.  Operators can be provided with the identity and past history of the customer they are on the phone with without the caller having to say a word. Analytics allow companies to make actionable business decisions on how to streamline customer response time based on call duration, success rate and transfer information.

As businesses realize the value of analytics tools, they will improve the customer experience in a much more intelligent and useful way. While our ability to collect and store customer data grew much faster than our ability to make sense of it, analytics are finally catching up and are allowing us to use data to shape a more personalized customer experience.

Do you have comments or questions about how analytics can help improve customer experience?  Post in the comments below!