Why Chief Data Officers Need to Embrace Omnichannel

KT Prasad, Country Sales Director, Zendesk IndiaIn his 22-years long career, Prasad has held key positions across an array of companies that include PSI Data Systems, Ness Technologies, Adea, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, prior to joining Zendesk in 2016.

The customer is the modern day Pied Piper. Businesses follow the customer just like the children of Hamlin were mesmerized by the Piper’s mesmerizing tunes. Businesses have learnt that being where their customers are, anticipating their needs and providing a superior CX bears rich rewards in the form of customer loyalty and stronger bottom lines.

The customer today can engage with a brand either in a physical store or online. Online engagement can involve multiple channels including search, website or live chat. It is also not linear. In fact what helps businesses be where their customers are today is an omnichannel approach. The customer gets an integrated and seamless experience across devices and channels, thanks to omnichannel.

The Zendesk Benchmark, an index of product usage data from over 45,000 companies, says omnichannel companies are better positioned to meet customer expectations. It notes that customers engaging with omnichannel companies spend less time waiting for responses. They resolve issues faster and are less likely to require follow-ups.

The CDO in the Driver’s Seat
We know now that an omnichannel engagement is useful for both customers and businesses. So, who in the C-suite should care for this approach? Since CX and omnichannel both are undeniably about use and governance of data, there’s one key business leader who should be interested the Chief Data Officer or the CDO. For the
uninitiated, the CDO is not a new role. Even four years back, 34 percent of businesses surveyed as part of an IBM study said they had a CDO. And how were such businesses doing? Nearly two thirds of businesses who beat their competition had a CDO in place.

What helps businesses be where their customers are today is an omnichannel approach

The CDO isn’t going away any time soon. A Gartner report quotes its research director, Valerie Logan, as saying,“It’s not difficult to see how, by 2021, the office of the CDO will be a mission critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75 percent of large enterprises”. This C-suite leader will have to ensure data quality and compliance with ethics and regulations.

It is also important for the CDO to make sure that the team gains adequate individual customer insights. This because an omnichannel approach to customer engagement involves a unified interface, one that is easy to gather all data at one place. As a result, strategizing and decision making becomes easier. Business outcomes improve.

Omnichannel is in reality the elimination of silos. When there are siloed channels, agents get bogged down, as they have to jump from one channel to another. They have separate dashboards to gather a customer’s queries and have to spend considerable time piecing together the context behind disparate interactions. All this leads to inefficiency and affects productivity. A CDO who therefore embraces omnichannel is boosting productivity and satisfaction within the enterprise as well.

Expectations & Technology
However, customer expectations are ever changing and ever-growing. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2019, customer satisfaction has dropped by 2.2 per cent to 92.5 per cent in 2018. This drop accentuates the need for companies to invest in an open, flexible CRM platform, provide self service options and roll out AI-powered features. As new technologies emerge, the CDO would need to ensure that data and transactions are secure.

A 2018 Adobe and Econsultancy report shows that businesses that have the tools to use data in order to create compelling, personalised realtime experiences are 50 per cent more likely than others to have beaten their 2017 business goals by a good margin. The omnichannel approach is agile and real-time, and hence impactful on businesses.

To sum it up, prioritising an omnichannel strategy will help a CDO gain a singular view of a customer, and in turn lead to richer insights. It helps the CDO’s team harness quality data which in turn helps in making business decisions. It all comes right back to the customer.