During a recent briefing with NGData, I was initially put off by excessive “marketing speak.” The team began by describing its product, Lily Enterprise, as a “customer experience operating system.” Being used to having operating systems run entire computers, I wasn’t sure what this meant. This term was followed by a statement that NGData’s products help companies transition from being “B2C to C2B,” that is, to put the customer first, an idea that has been around for several years but in my experience few companies achieve. One of the biggest challenges in this regard is that most companies are organized into business groups, and each business group typically has its own processes, systems and metrics, a situation that makes it hard to have a single view of the customer and take actions based on the same customer view, and which lends itself to focusing on internal goals, not the customer. As an example, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows three key impediments to delivering exceptional customer experiences: systems that are not integrated (for 49% of organizations), communication channels managed as silos (47%) and customers receiving inconsistent responses at different touch points. The root cause of all these is data – customer data. Organizations have multiple systems that generate customer data, in multiple forms: for example, structured data in CRM and ERP systems, voice recordings, text data from multiple sources (letters, email, Web scripts, text messages, chat scripts and social media posts), video and event data such as a customer downloading a film. With so much data in so many formats, it is hard for companies to generate a single, “360 degree” view of the customer that can be shared across the whole organization.
As the briefing continued, I learned that Lily that we recognized with a Technology Innovation Award in 2014 helps address the issue of dispersed customer data. Overall its product architecture has three levels. First, there are tools to ingest data from any source, including internal business and technology systems, third-party systems and publically available sources. Second, there are tools to produce reports and analysis based on that data, and to derive metrics using the data. These tools utilize big data management and analysis tools to process very large volumes of data in any format. At the top level, the company offers tools that use the outputs of the second layer as inputs for various uses – for example, to provide contact center agents with information about callers, to create personalized email or letters, to provide personalized responses to social media posts or as input to self-service systems such as Q&A on the corporate website or a mobile app. Such actions can occur through multiple channels of engagement, assisted or self-service, ensuring that responses at any touch point are based on the same up-to-date information – this is a fundamental requirement of omnichannel customer service. This three-stage approach – data, insight and action – is why NGData describes its products as an operating system rather than just a performance management or analytics system.
However, this terminology detracts from what for me it its biggest differentiator – what the company calls “customer DNA metrics.” Discussion is common about the need for a 360-degree view that contains all information about a customer – be it marketing, sales, service, financial, interactions, behavioral, lifestyle, value, preferences or risk; in short, everything that anyone in the organization might need to know about a customer. Lily Enterprise allows organizations to define as many metrics about a customer as they like and to create the rules to derive these metrics from specified data. The system collects the data, derives the metrics and groups them into defined categories, such as risk level, propensity to buy or frequency of calls. It then presents the categories and scores in a highly visual way, as shown in this video. This view can be shared with anyone in the organization, helping to ensure that everyone has the same view and takes actions based on the customer’s profile rather than from an inward-looking perspective; thus it becomes a C2B company, putting the customer first.
I often argue that consumers expect experiences that are EPIC – Easy, Personalized, In context and Consistent. I fail to see how organizations can deliver on these expectations unless they have a complete view of the customer that everyone, and all self-service systems, works from. There are other products that produce a view of the customer, but none of them in my experience is as complete as those produced by Lily, and the “customer DNA” appears to be unique. I therefore recommend that organizations that want to become fully customer-centric assess how NGData can help, bearing in mind that such a 360-degree view is the starting point and that most organizations will need to use it to change processes and employee training if they are to become a true C2B company.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director, Customer