Guest Column | March 28, 2018

Why Data Hoarding Will Sink Your Software Company

By Tara Kelly, SPLICE Software

Combining Human-Centered Design And Big Data In Pharma

Many software companies collect and analyze data points along the customer journey, but too many don’t share that information with the customer support team. Data hoarding restricts the sharing of these vital statistics with other business units, and as a result, customers get frustrated and leave.

In today’s customer-centric world, one way to make your software company stand out is by delivering a great customer experience — and data makes customer service excellence possible. The connection is clear: Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report found more than 60 percent of respondents view customer service as a key factor in brand loyalty, while a ThinkJar study revealed 84 percent of customers find it frustrating when support agents don’t have their information.

What does that mean? Applying data correctly is incredibly important.

Software organizations use data to gauge customer churn and build elaborate customer profiles. But one stat to pay closer attention to is the number of customers who stop subscribing to software without first complaining. The ThinkJar research shows a whopping 91 percent of unhappy customers who don’t bother to complain just leave. What if, instead of feeding agents statistics about churn and focusing on prospect data, your software company delivered data about existing customers?

Getting The Data That Counts For Customers

Everyone knows prospects are important — companies can and should generate data on their prospective customers. But current customers are important too, and many software businesses are so focused on analyzing churn metrics and chasing new customers they take existing customers for granted. Analytics for existing customers should be as good — or better — than analysis of prospects. So, what kind of customer-centric data should customer support agents have?

The answer to that question starts with the realization only a fraction of customers contact agents for live help. If your product is intuitive, most users won’t contact you and, before they do, they’ll spend considerable time trying to get answers themselves. With that in mind, it should be clear understanding how customers use your product in the context of the customer journey is essential for delivering great customer service.

Customers who contact a support agent are either looking to spend more money via an enhanced feature set or have a problem for which they need speedy resolution — data is essential to delivering what they need when they need it. To give your agents the tools they need to help customers efficiently and effectively, consider a dashboard which maps out the customer journey:

  • When was the last log-in, and how much time did the customer spend using your product?
  • How many users are in the customer’s organization, and what are their job titles?
  • How many unique users are on the platform?
  • What is the customers’ preferred point of entry?
  • What is their purpose for visiting the platform?

Data such as this maps the customer journey and helps agents remove friction from any customer transaction. Many software companies collect and analyze these data points, but too many organizations don’t share it with the customer support team. Data hoarding restricts the sharing of these vital statistics with other business units and, as a result, support agents don’t have a good sense of where customers are in their journey. As a result, customers get frustrated and leave.

Using Customer Data Proactively To Achieve Goals

When software companies stop hoarding data and start sharing customer analysis, the support team has a sense of where customers are in their journey and are able to address pain points more quickly and upsell more effectively; but that’s just the beginning. A closer examination of user behavior on your software platform can reveal other insights about the customer journey, including information on whether current options are still delivering value.

Reporting options are a great example. Are customers using the report options you provide? Are they printing copies, or can they share reports via links? Looking at how customers themselves use data has implications for product development, as well as customer support. To ensure the report options you provide still deliver maximum value, it’s worth exploring whether customers with different security clearances use them. Maybe providing a link or API sharing path instead of a download option makes more sense by delivering better security and making data movement more trackable.

At the end of the day, software executives must compare the expenses and benefits of customer outreach, looking at data on the cost of customer acquisition vs. costs associated with retention. In some cases — with large accounts, for example — it might make sense to call customers to discuss roles and get their feedback. A knowledge base and automated communication platform might be a better way to generate and view feedback in aggregate in other scenarios.

While the unique business model your software company uses provides the best guide for how you conduct customer outreach, applying data wisely will enhance any effort to improve the customer journey. Your software company’s success depends on delivering a great customer experience, and your ability to do so hinges on using data effectively. If your organization is guilty of data hoarding, now is the time to share that valuable resource so you can consistently achieve customer service excellence.

About The Author

A serial innovator, published author and founder, president and CEO of SPLICE Software, Tara Kelly (@tktechnow) is passionate about technology’s potential to change lives for the better. She has consistently channeled that belief into developing technologies that enhance operations, enable better service delivery and improve the customer experience.