Bring the customer intelligence with the iPhone (Q & A)

 Customer intelligence on your iPhone

In a recent conversation about predictive analytics, I learned how Wal-Mart Stores used statistical models to better understand the patterns and trends of its customers - and how companies can use this data to a competitive price to dominate a market.

Imagine that the same type of customer intelligence, delivered almost instantaneously, in the hands of store managers on-site or corporate executives on your iPhone or IPAD.

That's what Medallia, a provider of customer feedback and software performance data, is intended to provide a new offer this week on the heels of the new iPhone announcement in April. Medallia obtains its information from all the requests it receives from the survey hotels, shops, banks and other consumer services.

According Medallia CEO and co-founder Borge Hald, these data, when properly extracted, you can let an executive of Nike brand, for example, knowing what customers think about Kobe Bryant new shoes in the U.S. regions, or may allow the administrator of a Four Seasons hotel to say that the new corporate headquarters concierge services the best responses received from customers. Apple iPhone IPAD offering an easy to use for these data, helping managers make decisions in near real time.

Hald I met this week to discuss the management of customer experience and new mobile application.

Q: What do you mean by "customer experience management," and why does it matter?
Hald: Customer experience management (CEM) goes by a lot of names--customer intelligence, enterprise feedback management, even social CRM, to name a few--but it is the practice of using customer feedback to improve operations and sales. Not to be confused with CRM, which focuses on streamlining the sales cycle, CEM is actually a complementary system that is more focused on the actual interactions customers have with brands.
Currently, it's the big brands in hospitality, retail, and financial services that have made investments in customer experience. What we found with our customers was that though the initial goal for most of them was to save risky customers from switching brands, they also saw a boost in revenue. In fact, our clients are in sectors that were hit the hardest by the recession, but they all saw revenue growth during this period.
How do you see customer analytics delivering value over the iPhone?
Hald: Ultimately, we want to help companies become better at listening to customers and acting on that feedback. Call centers, Web surveys, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, online forums, and receipt-based surveys are all hard-to-monitor sources of customer experience intel.
Customer intelligence is used for decision making from a local level to the boardroom. Most people who interact with customers don't sit behind a desk all day, so we needed to put information on something that's carried with them--like their iPhone. Now, whether you're the CIO, a branch employee walking the floors, or a manager in the back office, you get real-time alerts and analytics about performance and customer sentiment.
Do companies pay more attention to social and mobile Web?
Hald: Well, sales revenue is tied tightly to brand names, so a lot of attention shifts to social networks and the mobile Web. Our clients are household names, so if a conversation is taking place across social forums that could impact their brand, they care.
Pundits such as Bruce Temkin, Jeremiah Owyang, and Charlene Li at Altimeter have been big proponents of brands navigating their social personas with customers and listen to the "voice of the customer."
In large part, I agree with them, but I am always telling clients not to let social media overplay its part. Fact is, 80 percent of customer referrals still take place offline, and the case could be that only 4 percent of your customers are online, driving 90 percent of the social conversation. The value in CEM software is extracting customer intelligence from the right channels.

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