Here’s Why 2021 is Actually the First “Year of Customer Experience”

Author: Wavicle Data Solutions


Each year, an online publication proudly announces, “This is the year of the customer!” While each piece is justified with evidence, was it ever true until now? Organizations faced the adage popularized by Charles Darwin — the most critical trait for survival is adapting to change.


The change was the transformation of customer interaction and it happened in real-time. The adaptation needed was not only how to maintain a high level of customer experience, but how to improve it quickly.


Many companies realized that they needed a better way to readily access their customer data, easily understand the data, and use it to drive business outcomes.


“It was the first time we had to really look at data in a new way…How do I think about my business in a way without any precedent?”
Christal Bemont
Chief Executive Officer


A life-saving medical device company was already on a path toward digital transformation but it needed to push the process into overdrive. Across all customer-facing industries, the acquisition of new external data points became a necessity rather than a luxury.


The latest advances in technology had to be utilized to fully understand customer feedback data. The world’s largest QSR brand responded by teaming up with Wavicle and AWS for an advanced voice of customer solution to break down data silos and discover actionable insights.


Industry leaders with CX on their minds


At Accelerate 2021: Data Analytics Summit, business leaders and tech innovators focused on the necessity of great customer experience throughout the day in multiple sessions.  What we’ve learned in each is that delivering an exceptional experience relies on the right data and technology.


An executive roundtable discussed data industry topics that included Christal Bemont, CEO of Talend, Cindi Howson, Chief Data Strategy Officer of Thoughtspot, Ed Rybiki, Chief Information Officer of Vyaire Medical, and Kyle Rourke, Head of Platform Strategy at Snowflake.


The consumer-centric vision of the group was apparent quickly in the afternoon. “Customer experience is the number one use case. We are nothing without our customers,” Howson declared. The statement holds weight, business leaders are well aware of the consequences of poor CX. According to ForbesInsights, 83% of executives surveyed said they faced moderate to severe risks to their revenue and market share as a result of unimproved CX.


A forcing function for complete digitization


Vyaire Medical, a customer of Wavicle Data Solutions and several of the companies on the panel, built a scalable enterprise data platform to consolidate and extract more value from its data sources before 2020. Shortly after, Vyaire needed to ramp its ventilator production from 30 a week to 600 a day.


Rybiki described the massive increase, not as a manufacturing challenge, but also as a need for clean and clear data that could drive decisions as quickly as possible. While Vyaire was in the process of becoming a data-driven business, it needed transformation overnight to quickly collaborate with suppliers, meet increased demand, and provide accurate tracking to its customers.


Vyaire’s rapid digital transformation propelled the manufacturing, communication, and logistical advancements in response to the demand increase. The company wasn’t the only one to revamp data and analytics strategies. Organizations of all kinds and sizes were driven into digital transformation instantaneously.


“This was a real forcing function to force customers to digitize pretty much every single process they have,” Rourke responded to Rybiki. Rourke went on to describe the abundance of data created, the positive benefits for years to come, and the optimization needed for customers through machine learning (ML), better reporting, and better visibility.


External data builds advanced business intelligence


Lisa Aguilar, Director of Product Marketing at ThoughtSpot, led a strong session with Wavicle Vice President of Revenue Growth and Strategy, Anthony Lempelius, on trends for the year. “In 2021, we believe those who are going to capitalize, must not only rely on their internal data, but their external data for timely signals and comprehensive insights, to completely outperform their counterparts.”


Aguilar went on to highlight how new data sources, like data marketplaces, government data, and social media, can be used to identify changing customer behavior. Without an understanding of the behavior, consistent improvements of CX will prove to be extremely difficult.


A 2020 case study in the Journal of Decision Systems, provided evidence for the value of external data, linking it as a key asset for organizations. External data creates analytical business values that are “descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive.” The result? Gains in competitive edge with decision-making more clear and contributory.


“Customers are looking to take these non-traditional data sets…to potentially enrich them with data coming from outside their enterprise.”
Kyle Rourke
Head of Platform Strategy


Merging internal and external data certainly comes with its adherent challenges for stakeholders. Aguilar encouraged companies that have yet to begin, to focus on the combination that will bring immediate results. She spoke of caution with legacy systems, like brittle dashboards, that may require pipeline rebuilding.


“The advent of these data exchanges allows us to compare and contrast benefits and gives us the ability to move so much faster with richer analytics and without a prohibitive upfront investment.”
Ed Rybicki
Chief Information Officer
Vyaire Medical


Even with the difficulties during merging, she maintained the level of necessity. “The question is not ‘can we afford to make these changes, but can we afford to not make these changes?’”


Technology meets a custom solution to demolish silos


Another session, Discovering Insights from Customer Feedback at McDonald’s using Amazon Comprehend, was led by Duane Lyons, Restaurant Practice Lead at Wavicle, Malia Kats, Director of Global Insights at the McDonald’s Corporation, and Sameer Karnik, Senior Product Manager at AWS.


Karnik detailed the goal of creating systems that could quickly learn from the data itself using ML and natural language processing (NLP). The application also needed to have ease of use without complete expertise in ML and NLP. In other words, it needed to be customer-friendly.


McDonald’s didn’t face a problem of collecting customer feedback itself but rather siloed data spread across multiple platforms that didn’t transfer over to a single tool. The feedback arrived from social sites, customer surveys, emails, chat logs, and more. A solution was needed to address two primary goals:


  • All data needed to be brought together in a holistic and consumable way
  • The ease of exploration of customer feedback 


The solution for finding an efficient way to understand, validate, and act on the data? A voice of customer solution. Wavicle partnered with AWS and building upon Amazon Comprehend, created a customized solution to meet the needs of McDonald’s. The AI-driven advanced text analytics and sentiment analysis solution allowed for the visualization of large volumes of customer feedback data.


McDonald’s needed a voice of customer solution that addressed two primary goals:

All data needed to be brought together in a holistic and consumable way
The ease of exploration of customer feedback

Using the solution, McDonald’s was able to quickly cut through the noise of customer feedback data and discover insights in many areas

  1. Promotions insights
  2. Drive-thru insights
  3. COVID-19 insights


Using the solution, McDonald’s was able to quickly cut through the noise of customer feedback data and discover insights in many areas including:


  • Promotions insights
  • Drive-thru insights
  • COVID-19 insights


Kats described her personal nirvana for the company moving forward. Making sure insight that is gathered can be acted upon quickly and effectively at the restaurant level and that CX is better tomorrow than it is today.


Karnik previewed the future advancements for ML and NLP that are driven by a “perfect storm.” Compute power is now broadly available with affordability and mobile devices are creating a metaphorical explosion of data.


A helping hand to create optimal CX


Throughout the six sessions at Accelerate: 2021, it was abundantly clear that even the most successful companies should be in a constant state of improving experience and satisfaction for their customer base through data analytics. If an organization doesn’t have the expertise, bandwidth, or tools to house, manage, and act upon its data, the customer will suffer the consequences.


Organizations cannot achieve these outcomes without improvements and a holistic dedication to sound CX. The most important piece of CX? Understanding customers. and the best way to build that knowledge is with customer analytics.


The professionals at Wavicle offer a variety of customer analytics tools and models – from managing accurate customer data with master data solutions to acting on the voice of customer insights to developing micro-segmentation models to enable personalization – that enable data-driven enterprises to deliver exceptional customer experiences.