Organisations lag behind on real-time customer engagement

Just 16 per cent of UK businesses are able to adjust their communication in real-time based on customer behaviour

Nearly 60 per cent of UK businesses say real-time customer engagement can deliver a revenue increase of 10 to 40 per cent but most are failing to harness customer data to full effect, a new report by SAS has revealed.

The study found that brands are collecting less than a third of relevant personal data on their customers, and only 25 per cent of that data set is being used in segmentation for real-time customer engagement.

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The findings also revealed that there is a stark difference between understanding of customer identity and being able to use the information available to drive immediate customer intimacy, with just 16 per cent of UK organisations able to adjust their marketing communication in real-time based on customer behaviour. This rises to 17 per cent in a few hours and 25 per cent within a day.

And just a third claim to be able to switch communication channels in response to customer behaviour or external events. Moreover, 60 per cent of UK organisations said they are unable to communicate with customers via multiple channels in an integrated manner.

So despite the understanding that real-time customer engagement is an imperative part of today’s customer experience strategies, why is achieving this still such a challenge? Just over half say budget constraints are a key obstacle. Other barriers include data security (40 per cent), legacy IT systems (30 per cent) and regulation (30 per cent).

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018, a third of respondents believe this could be a positive trigger point to overhauling their data governance and improving their ability to analyse customer data in real-time.

The report also explored the rise in artificial intelligence (AI) usage. Interestingly, only a minority of organisations have implemented the necessary AI technology to communicate via the appropriate channel in real-time, and many still require human intervention.

Nearly eight out of 10 (77 per cent) of organisations claimed to have deployed some form of AI technology but most admitted they were not fully exploiting it due to lack of skills (66 per cent), inability to provide ROI (55 per cent) and marketing not being ready to embrace its use for real-time customer engagement (46 per cent).