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People are the backbone of customer success and customer service. Account managers, service reps, and salespeople develop strong ties with customers that drive growth and strengthen bonds. And while that still remains the case, data, which has formerly disrupted sales and marketing, has become firmly entrenched in the customer success arena.

That was a clear message from customer service expert and bestselling author, Shep Hyken, who mentioned data nearly a dozen times in a recent Series Pass webcast with Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist, Vala Afshar (watch it here and check out a recent recap here).

Read on to learn how data can help deliver customer success.

1. Extract information from big data, but don’t ignore ‘little data’

Hyken used the example of a new hotel to illustrate this point. While choosing a location and building the hotel is often based on big data, informing decisions at every step, it’s little data that ultimately makes the hotel successful. “You have little data on [each] customer. You know from a past experience she had with another hotel that she likes a certain type of room. You know that she’s allergic to feather pillows. You know she likes chocolate mints,” Hyken said. “How do you know that? Because the housekeeper is giving somebody the information [after seeing empty wrappers], and now you’ve got this little data.”

Hyken also referenced a test study for Net Promoter Score (NPS) done by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, in which the company called customers within 24 hours to ask a three-question scale of 1-10 survey. The zinger indicates an intent for advocacy. “What’s the likelihood that you would recommend us to a friend?”. But Hyken also thinks companies should ask another question to get contextual intelligence. “It’s an open-ended question,” he said. “And it is: ‘Why? Why did you give me that score?’”

Bonus app to do the job: Apps can help you link external data sources in real time, so that your customer service team connects to literally thousands of data repositories on the web. Check out Skuid, a user experience platform that is all point-and-click—so you don’t have to write a single line of code to connect your systems.  With Skuid, you can easily create custom apps and portals, using data from Salesforce and your other platforms, without code. With this single app, easily add, edit, and delete records from many different databases in real time.

2. Set measureable customer service goals for each channel

Afshar and Hyken discussed the types of channels customer service and success teams should support, and both vigorously agreed that companies should be on the channels where their customers and target demographics spend time. But Hyken takes it a step further, saying that companies should set measurable goals for their levels of engagement on these channels.

Those goals don’t have to be astronomical, Hyken said, but rather just consistently better than average. “[Set a standard], like all emails will be responded to within X period of time, [or] instant chat or tech support will be responded to within 60 seconds.”

Bonus app to do the job: Having complete visibility of your entire business across accounting and financial data allows you to better support your customers. Sage Live, available on AppExchange, is a tool that helps you connect your front-office CRM with back-office accounting ledgers and financials to run your business in real time. With Sage Live, connect sales opportunities, invoicing, payments, and accounting ledgers so you can spend more time focusing on the things that really impact your bottom line – like customer service and success.

3. Customer service is the new marketing, and marketing uses data

“What would be more impressive to a customer: to see some display ad along the side of some social page they’re on that’s being pushed to them, or having a friend or a colleague at work say, ‘I just had the most incredible experience with Salesforce’?” Hyken asked. Word of mouth has always been an incredibly rich marketing resource, and delivering great customer service and success is a sure-fire way to improve word-of-mouth marketing.

“[Word-of-mouth] comes from the customer’s experience,” Hyken said. “And that experience is highly driven by the service that they receive, either through the human or technical side.”

So where does data come in? Marketers are increasingly using data to measure and optimize campaigns, doubling down on things that work while eliminating or pivoting on things that don’t. According to research done by Ascend2, 54% of companies believe that making more accurate decisions is the biggest benefit of marketing data. By understanding the experiences your customers are having with your business, and where those experiences are leading to word-of-mouth marketing, you can focus on the things that deliver even more customer success, and realize the benefits, both direct and indirect.

You can view the entire Series Pass webcast here. Head to AppExchange for more great customer service apps to help you deliver amazing customer experiences.