Real-time insights key to unleashing customer growth

Real-time customer insights: Linda Saunders, director: solution engineering at Salesforce South Africa. Photo: Supplied
Linda Saunders, director: solution engineering at Salesforce South Africa. Photo: Supplied

In today’s volatile economic climate, maintaining a durable and resilient business while staying connected with customers has become more critical than ever. According to Linda Saunders, director of solution engineering at Salesforce South Africa, one key to achieving this is having a unified, 360-degree view of the customer.

Saunders points out that larger enterprises today have an average of 1 061 different applications to run their business. This creates the potential for 1 061 versions of a single customer and 1 061 records about each and every customer. Instead of a unified, 360-degree view of the customer, companies end up with fragmented glimpses and disconnected experiences.

“The volume of data companies generate continues to grow exponentially and is expected to more than double by 2026,” Saunders warns. In this all-digital world, milliseconds matter more, especially with the petabytes of data generated from our always-on smartphones, connected cars, home security systems, and many other devices.

According to Saunders, disjointed experiences waste the customer’s time, increase support costs, and fail to elicit customer loyalty.

As customer expectations rise, connecting and extracting value from data in real-time will become a key pillar of businesses’ growth strategies.

“Today, having a single, unified, and real-time view of every customer, at scale, is the intelligent heart of customer engagement,” says Saunders. By breaking down data silos and using real-time customer insights, companies can power their sales, marketing, and commerce interactions and deliver relevant and tailored experiences while saving time and money.

Saunders cites research showing that 65% of consumers say they will remain loyal to companies that offer a more personalised experience, with over 60% expecting companies to react instantly with up-to-date information when transferred between departments.

To achieve this, Saunders suggests that a combination of real-time data, AI, and automation is reshaping industries entirely. She gives the example of healthcare, where real-time data can be used to create a unified health score for patients complete with data like blood pressure, temperature, and demographic and environmental information.

In the automotive industry, Saunders explains, connected cars can help connect drivers, manufacturers, dealers, and auto lenders in ways that create more personalised experiences and higher levels of customer service. In real-time, the data that is coming from the car can help shape the features and change the way drivers are experiencing the car itself.

Saunders also notes that in financial services, harmonised data is helping leaders to make more informed decisions for their customers and businesses. By monitoring customer activities and life events, experts can better understand and proactively help them plan for key milestones, such as buying a new home, paying for tuition, or planning for retirement.

“With the power of CRM, data, and AI, companies can now create seamless, connected, and hyper-personalised customer experiences that weren’t possible before,” Saunders explains.

Having a golden record that captures everything about a customer in real-time across every interaction eliminates the cost and complexity of building a single view of the customer, making it easy for companies to take action on their data to deliver the value that customers need.

Saunders emphasises that building a strong data culture is key to maximising the potential of information and equipping teams to make smart decisions. Having a customer data platform that acts as a single source of truth is integral to driving business resilience, meaningful customer engagement, and future growth.

She furthermore Saunders highlights the importance of having a single, unified, and real-time view of the customer for businesses to thrive in today’s digital age. By leveraging real-time data, AI, and automation, companies can create personalised experiences, increase customer loyalty, and achieve business growth.

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