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  • CMS Wire

Why The Digital Customer Experience is Crucial - Part Two

The Role of Growing Data Privacy Regulation

An additional challenge organizations need to take into account as they create and refine digital customer experience are their customers’ needs for data privacy and the increasing amount of regulation coming into effect around the world to help guarantee that privacy.

Respondents currently represent a range of attitudes. The two most popular are “Data privacy is required by applicable laws, so we get it done” (34 percent) and “It’s extremely important and we want to be a leader in this area and give our customers control over how their personal data is used” (28 percent). However, 17 percent of respondents, while seeing data privacy as “very important,” want to exceed the guidelines for their countries of operation; but without sacrificing the types of programs they want to offer. A further 20 percent describe data privacy as “important” and are keen to meet the guidelines for their countries of operation. By failing to fully prioritize data privacy compliance internally, organizations may lose the ability to use adherence to regulation as a guide to help drive and ensure long-lasting improvements in their worldwide digital customer experience. When examining respondents’ attitudes to one specific piece of legislation – the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – and their organization’s current GDPR compliance status, there is a spectrum of responses with the top two being “Our compliance is an ongoing process” (22 percent) and “We have completed our action plan and publicly asserted our compliance” (21 percent). While 14 percent of the 2018 respondents stated that “GDPR does not impact our business at this time,” only five percent of those polled asked “What is GDPR?” In 2017, 15 percent of respondents asked, “What is GDPR?” and 16 percent said, “GDPR does not impact our business at this time.” One clear market response to the waves of massive data breaches at household name companies is that customers and legislators will push for and mostly likely achieve more and more data privacy regulation at the local, regional and eventually, global level.


Companies are looking to a mix of emerging and maturing technologies and changes in organizational practices to help them deliver experiences to their customers. The four main areas of investment for organizations this year are: In fifth place were personas, targeting and/or personalization at 32 percent. 2018 state of digital customer experience • Analytics and dashboarding 46% • Customer data management and data integration • Digital transformation projects 37% • Marketing and experience automation 37% 44

Mixed Responses to Customer Data Platforms

Technologies which are being aggressively advanced by both vendors and integrators as potential digital customer experience silver bullets are the customer data platform (CDP) or the customer data management (CDM) solution. That these solutions are being pushed in the market is no surprise, given that 44 percent of our respondents pointed to siloed data as one of their top DCX challenges. There is clearly a need for improved data integration, availability, management and quality.

Twenty-two percent of respondents have already purchased such a platform, while a further 11 percent are currently evaluating a CDP or CDM and another 24 percent are discussing the possibility. Twenty percent of those surveyed have no current plans to invest in a CDP specifically and another 19 percent are not sure of their organization’s plans. Among the remaining three percent of respondents, several are developing their own platforms rather than purchasing them from a third party vendor.

When looking at specifically at customer data management, 30 percent of those polled described their highest priority as the improved ability to perform analytics and segmentation. A further 24 percent chose centralized choreography and engagement intelligence to share across touchpoints, while another 23 percent opted for gaining access to disparate customer data across silos or systems. Among the remaining respondents, 19 percent said they were unsure about their highest customer data management priority. In the case of both CDPs and customer data management, it’s clear that some organizations are either making doing with what they currently have or waiting to see how these technology areas clarify and mature.

The Future Impact of AI and Machine Learning

Respondents mostly remain bullish about the likely impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on digital customer experience over the next two to five years. Forty-three percent of those polled expect that impact to be “significant,” while a further 25 percent believe it will be “transformative” and another 21 percent see AI and machine learning as having only a “moderate” impact on DCX. Our 2018 survey results represent a couple of percentage points increase on those of 2017 when 41 percent of respondents expected AI and ML would have a “significant” impact on digital customer experiences, followed by 23 percent who saw the technologies as “transformative.” In 2017, 22 percent of respondents viewed AI and ML as having a “moderate” impact on DCX. As to where exactly these emerging technologies will have the most impact on organizations’ customer experiences, the number-one prediction is in gaining actionable customer insights (27 percent) -- so a mix of automating the processes needed to gather relevant customer intelligence along with realizing cognitive insights which reveal and recognize behavior patterns. In second place was enabling customer self-service (15 percent), and in third position, freeing up staff to engage in higher-level tasks (14 percent). Organizations are looking to AI to help them more quickly search and navigate vast amounts of customer data to determine buying patterns and to rapidly retrieve relevant information to answer questions about customer behavior or to serve up the right content to answer customers’ support questions.

What’s somewhat surprising is that only six percent of respondents expected AI and Machine Learning to improve areas such as personalization and product recommendations. In follow-up interviews with some respondents, they expressed hope that AI and machine learning will significantly improve the speed and accuracy with which they can process and answer customers’ questions. One area where the technologies could be particularly helpful is in more intelligently compiling and continually updating frequently asked questions (FAQs) which customers can use to solve their own issues. Respondents also foresee AI and machine learning being helpful in first gaining a better understanding of the customer and their needs and then using that data to provide the individual with a more streamlined and succinct list of options or recommendations.

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