What is REALLY the Customer Truth, Marc?

What is REALLY the Customer Truth, Marc?

If you’ve read the news this morning, you’ve likely seen a lot of buzz around Salesforce Customer 360 Truth. Marc Benioff announced it yesterday at the company’s Dreamforce conference, and while I’m excited to see customer truth finally has its rightful place in the spotlight, I can’t help but be disappointed that big tech continues to miss the point. Technology is only ever part of the answer when it comes to truly understanding how and why consumers feel the way they do.

The experience economy is struggling, companies are failing customers left and right, and yet Salesforce thinks the solution is more technology. At a time when only 15% of marketers are running successful, business-impacting CX strategies, Salesforce has overlooked a huge component of the conversation. What about the people behind the numbers?

When I wrote in October how the responsibility rests on the CEO to transform businesses to be more data-driven in their approaches to customer experience, I touched on how a corporate-wide inability to improve the way data is gathered and used is often one of the reasons why companies fail. What Salesforce has done with Customer 360 Truth is an excellent solution to beginning to solve this problem, but that’s where it ends. Technology will only get you so far on your quest for customer truth.

This is why we’ve spent the majority of 2019 digging into customer truth, how companies succeed or fail at finding it, where the research goes wrong, and how insights play a part in the journey.

In research we sponsored conducted by Forrester Consulting, we unveiled that feelings influence customer buying decisions and loyalty 1.5X more than anything else looked at in the study. Emotion is critical, but it’s hard to see in big data. So it was surprising then to find that the same surveyed companies over-rely on big data to understand their customers, which has led to common misconceptions of which data properly measures how customers think and feel.

We then worked with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and found that when companies actually look into small data and integrate it with big data, their businesses thrive. It was incredibly eye-opening to see just how few companies – only 15% – admit their customer experience strategies actually enable the ability to purely identify customer truth.

When Forrester came out with its 2020 customer insights predictions last week, analysts pointed to two significant shifts to come: consumers will search for deeper meaning and CMOs will rally around customer value. This seems obvious, but it should be a major aha moment for brands. People aren’t happy with the way they’re being treated by brands, showing over and over again they’ll put their money where their values lie.

While we love the fact that big tech is finally catching up with the conversation we began earlier this year, understanding humans are more complex than simply having a unified stream of numbers. The only way you will succeed in finding customer truth is by painting the whole picture, bringing insights and emotions together. Until Salesforce has the ability to bring small data instream, marketers will only ever have half the picture.

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