Best Practices

How to use data to drive better customer experiences | Census

Jesse Short
Jesse Short December 21, 2022

Jesse is a content strategist at Help Scout. After years of working in customer service and writing freelance, he made the switch to writing full-time and now spends most of his days writing about customer service and daydreaming about cheeseburgers and assorted pastries.

Almost every business on the planet is interested in improving its customer experience. And that’s for good reason: Increased access to tools and technology means that competition is growing in most industries. One of the best ways to stand out is by leveraging customer data as your competitive advantage. 💪

The desire to create excellent customer experiences is the first, and most important, step. However, without a data-driven strategy, you might find yourself struggling to figure out what works and what doesn’t. 🤷 Collecting customer data is just the beginning – you also have to make it usable and actionable for your business teams.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to unlock the potential of your data so you can improve your customer experience. 

Collecting customer data 

In order to use data to improve your customer experience, you need to collect it. Though there are potentially many different ways to collect data, there are two main types of customer data you can collect: Quantitative and qualitative

Quantitative data – sometimes called structured data – is generally expressed as a number. Things like customer satisfaction scores or net promoter scores are great examples of this. Basically, if you can chart it on a graph, it’s probably quantitative. 

Qualitative data – sometimes called unstructured data – is generally expressed in words rather than numbers. Things like customer interviews or text-based questions on a survey generate qualitative data. This type of data tends to be more anecdotal and less scientific. 

Both types of data can be very useful to help improve your customer experience on their own but are best used in conjunction with one another. 🤝 For example, you might have quantitative data from customers ranking potential new features to see what's most popular. Then, as a qualitative follow-up, you could chat with a couple of different customers to better understand exactly how they envision using the feature. 

After data collection, many companies often store their customer data in a data warehouse like Snowflake, Redshift, or BigQuery, or a data lake like Databricks. This creates a “single source of truth” for consistent reporting and ensures everyone across the organization has access to the same data. ⭐

Activating customer data to improve customer experiences

Storing data is essential, but making it actionable for customer success, sales, and marketing teams is even more important. What good is data if no one is using it?

Business teams talk to customers, answer emails, and send personalized campaigns every day. Their day-to-day operations can become even more efficient and informed with the right data at their fingertips. ✋

Let’s dive into some use cases where better data can lead to better customer experiences.

Building 360° views of customers

Customers interact with your brand in a variety of ways every single day. For example, they might visit your website, use your app, click on an ad, speak with a sales representative, or buy an item in a physical store. Connecting the dots and consolidating individual activities into a 360° customer profile is essential for understanding each customer.

Customer service is a great example of the potential of good data. When a ticket or request comes in, a support representative needs relevant information ASAP to resolve the issue. If their customer information is located in 5 different places, that slows down their response time and leaves the customer waiting. ⌚

Instead, if support teams have customer 360 profiles, they can see purchase data, billing data, and marketing interactions all in one place. They can immediately grasp the full picture of that customer’s interactions with their brand.

For example, if you use Help Scout as your customer experience platform, you can easily set up Customer Profiles that pop up alongside every request. A tool like Census will help you enrich profiles with interactions from outside Help Scout, so support representatives don’t need to leave the tool they’re familiar with to hunt down information.

Proactively building customer 360 profiles helps support teams resolve issues more quickly and deliver the best experience for your customers. 

Delivering answers faster and reducing friction

Friction is anything that causes your customer to put forth additional effort.

Did you know that around 70% of customers will try to find an answer to a question themselves prior to contacting support? That means that for most people, having to contact a support team already adds friction to the customer experience.

Customer behavioral data collected from your website, application, or product are great ways to find sources of friction in your customer journey. Product analytics tools like Mixpanel, Amplitude, PostHog, and Pendo can help you see if people are stopping on certain parts of your site or exiting the page after a specific action. You can see what kind of activity or what types of questions are most common for people at different stages of the customer journey.

Here are 2 ideas on how to make that data actionable 👇

  1. Proactive FAQ email: In Help Scout, you can add tags for things like customer industry and then run a report to see what types of questions are most common for that industry. Then, any time someone else from that same industry signs up, you can send them an FAQ email that anticipates their questions. Getting answers before you even ask is a pretty awesome experience. 
  2. Automated outreach for stuck users: Using Census, you can use friction points to trigger automated messages to move customers further along the journey. For example, if a customer looks at a product page for 10 minutes but doesn’t purchase, Census can send that data to your marketing tool and automatically enroll them in a personalized campaign.

Taking a proactive approach to support also reduces the number of requests that come into your support queue, improving life for your customers and your employees. 

Improving personalization at scale

We’re all inundated with a ton of different advertisements daily. 😵‍💫 With so much noise, people are less and less receptive to blanket sales pitches. These days, they’re looking for curated offerings that fit their wants and needs. In fact, research by McKinsey found 71% of consumers expect personalization

Trying to anticipate the needs of hundreds or thousands of customers can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, you can automate outreach that is personalized and efficient. 🏆

Use your customer data to power these use cases:

  • Abandoned cart follow-up: Send an email, text, or in-app notification asking if they’re still interested in their items. In fact, 45% of abandoned cart emails are opened, and 10% complete the purchase they originally abandoned. 
  • Upsells based on past purchases: Figure out what types of products are commonly purchased together. If someone buys just one but not others, you could send an automated follow-up suggesting the others.
  • Lookalike audiences: Analyze which types of customers have the highest CLV (customer lifetime value) and build segments similar to your best existing customers. Then use those lookalike audiences as a safe and cost-effective way to expand and improve the quality of your advertising audiences.

Every company does personalization to some extent, but automating your outreach and using better data results in huge differences in effectiveness and ROI.

A data platform like Census helps you make data actionable immediately. You can connect your data and your apps together to quickly make 360° customer information available in daily business tools like Help Scout, Salesforce, Iterable, or Facebook Ads.

The future is made of better customer experiences 🔮

Creating better customer experiences is certainly easier said than done. There’s no silver bullet that can guarantee success, but unlocking the potential of your customer data for action and automation will drive more revenue and create better overall customer interactions. 

So, be curious, ask questions, and make changes. When you take care of your customers, they’ll take care of you, too. 

🚀 Want to see how you can use Census reverse ETL to activate your customer data? Book a demo with a product specialist.

✅ And if you're looking for a better way to talk with your customers, check out Help Scout.