A comparison of this year’s Q1 2012 Business Review data reveals that despite the UK economy slipping back in to recession, organic revenue growth remains the top priority among UK-based businesses (64 per cent in 2012 and in 2011).

However, this year, nearly half of UK-based businesses indicate the primary means to achieve that growth objective is to service and grow their existing customers. See Figure 1.

Without question, the customer is driving the agenda at the vast majority of businesses; not only in the UK, but also around the world. 

Customers have access to more information, via more channels, such as social, mobile, the web and third-party research.

Hence the near 80 per cent year-over-year increase in companies focused on creating and expanding sales channels

As a result, customers are often more educated about the various problems they seek to solve and the options available to them than the sales people who sell those solutions.

This has resulted in a hidden sales cycle, through which prospective solution buyers are not being revealed to the solution sellers until much later in the sales cycle when they’ve already formulated decisions about their needs and wants.

What this all means is that companies are highly-focused on optimising and maximising their customers’ experience with their company, products and brand.

At the core of customer experience initiatives are two factors that speak directly to IT: data and analytics. 

In fact, Aberdeen Group’s research on customer experience management revealed that companies, which perform best in customer retention, response time to customer inquiries, customer satisfaction, and growing customer lifetime value, are focused foremost on tracking, capturing, and utilising customer experience information.

In support of this focus on the customer, several top marketing priorities indicated by UK-based organisations depend on complete and accurate insight about the markets they serve. See Figure 2. 

Take, for example, the 78 per cent increase in UK companies focused on customer marketing.

It is generally more costly to spark interest among net-new customers than it does to capture a larger share of an existing customer’s spend.

Increasing this share of wallet requires accurate and actionable customer data to personalise cross-sell or up-sell activities.

Additionally, UK organisations indicate plans to actively engage in new channels. Aberdeen’s research suggests that the number of businesses in the UK that actively monitor and participate in social media may quadrupal this year.

This is very consistent with what is illustrated in Figure 1 (top strategies to achieve business goals)

While data and analytics are truly at the core of customer experience initiatives, it is imperative that IT leaders also understand the myriad ways different functional areas of a business impact this vital objective. 

Customer experience management most visibly involves all customer touch points including sales, service, marketing, and the contact center. 

However, it also is highly dependent upon critical back-office functions such as product development and engineering, supply chain and procurement. 

It also becomes more complex and more opportunistic when considering the variety of channels available to companies and their customers.

We invite you to take part in Aberdeen’s latest survey on Master Data Management. All who take part will receive a free copy of Aberdeen’s research report Business Analytics for the Masses.

Kevin Martin is Senior Vice President of International Operations at Aberdeen Group. Twitter @kevinwmartin

Pic: pp22earl cc2.0