Reversing the Momentum of Dysfunctional Customer Information: Three Benefits of a Customer-Centric Approach to Data

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Not too long ago, Gartner conducted a survey in which 89 percent of all businesses participating indicated that customer experience would be their primary differentiator. If your first reaction is that it feels a bit too optimistic, you’re probably right, and you’re not alone. The reality for most companies is that the execution of customer-centric programs hasn’t yet reached that standard. One of the major reasons for this has to do with the way that businesses are storing, managing and maintaining customer data.

Companies are still struggling to find ways to manage massive amounts of data in a way that drives their customer-centric strategic initiatives without becoming a bottleneck to the entire organization. Data quality, governance, and other data-based critical decisions can significantly impact a company’s growth and are criteria that should not be taken lightly.

Thanks in part to the multitude of touch points available, customer data is growing faster than ever. Today it’s no longer enough just to send a personalized message on your customers’ birthdays. Customers expect deeper, more personalized interactions regardless of how they choose to interact — whether in-store, online, via email, Facebook, Twitter, phone and beyond. So how can organizations keep up with these expectations? One way is to take a customer-centric approach to your organization’s master data.

The True Impact of Dysfunctional Data

According to IBM, poor data quality costs the U.S. economy a whopping $3.1 trillion per year, and demonstrates how the quality of customer data can have a direct correlation on the health of a business. Customer data specifically plays an outsized role in an organization’s ability to execute programs that truly help differentiate the business and help it compete on customer experience. To be more blunt, poor customer data has a direct impact on profits not to mention brand and company loyalty, reputation and growth.

After all, bad customer data is one of the true impediments to building customer relationships, attracting new customers, performing proper analysis and having the ability to plan strategically. So, while there are no shortcuts to achieving meaningful data quality, the way a company imports, stores and manages critical customer data directly impacts whether the organization can rely on it.

With such a clearly identifiable financial impact, you’d think that most companies would have a better handle on this by now. So why are so many still struggling with customer data quality?

The answer is that problems with data in general, and specifically customer data, are often like a set of slow falling dominoes. One small, seemingly innocuous action at the beginning often sets a chain reaction into motion that causes unforeseen data problems throughout the organization.

Why Customer Data is at the Heart of a Multidomain MDM Approach

Various technology solutions have long promised a “360-degree customer view” that puts the customer first and helps you compete on experience. But, for most, the results have fallen short.

The truth is that achieving meaningful customer engagements require more than simply centralizing and linking clean and accurate data across the business. By synchronizing all systems where customer data resides, organizations can create a trusted customer profile that puts the customer first and helps the business compete on experience. However, the reality is that, for most, this is harder to accomplish than one would think. This is because achieving a truly optimal customer experience often relies on an organization’s ability to link customer records to other data domains, such as product and location information. This is where multidomain master data management (MDM) systems can help. MDM enhances a company’s ability to deliver a greater customer experience. And, as customer data is often heavily linked to product purchase data, it creates a more complete, holistic view of the individual.

By managing data in a way that links two previously separate domains, organizations can build a fuller, more complete view of interactions and behaviors to:

  1. Achieve Deeper and Richer Insights.

    Having the correct data allows the business to know what their customers want in the moment they’re engaging with the company. The ability to gain deeper and richer insights about a customer is imperative to their overall experience, yet providing an exceptional encounter is nearly impossible without clean data.

  1. Faster Decision-Making.

    Increased customer demand has also led to the need for shorter decision timeframes. The ability to pull data faster is a necessity to streamlined decision-making. Based on a survey by the Aberdeen Group, companies taking a customer-centric approach to their master data can make faster decision-making, gain more complete records and improve customer retention than those that don’t.

    This is of particular importance because we all know customers will look elsewhere if they’re not able to quickly find what they need, and it’s about to get much worse. The ability to keep up with customer preferences won’t become any less demanding as the number of channels available to them will continue to proliferate, driving the need for customer-centric, accurate data at every touch point.

  1. Improved Operational Efficiency.

    There are more obvious practical benefits to customer-centric master data. If all data is clean, accurate and centrally located, it will be easier to find and utilize. Companies operating in this fashion can reduce the time spent searching for data and more time on deriving insight.

Customers expect a seamless experience from the time they start their initial research, through the buying process, until the time the product is in their hands and beyond. When data enables this experience, customer satisfaction rates tend to improve, and customer retention rates remain strong.

Creating Customer Loyalty by Eliminating Data Discrepancies

The number of systems with data on companies and customers is vast and fragmented, each operating independently of one another. The challenge of identifying and reconciling data across these disparate and siloed systems makes creating a complete and accurate view of a company or customer almost impossible. No single system contains this view across all departments or lines of business within an enterprise or is designed to manage the complete lifecycle of the data. And, let’s face it, customer insight begins with customer knowledge.

Master data management solutions allows organizations to know who their customers are and recognize them at any point of contact. By having access to this 360-degree customer profile, they can create a single source of truth, populated with a consolidated golden record view of customer data across the enterprise.

Businesses who prosper now and in the future, are more than likely to be the ones who are willing to take a customer-centric mindset to solving their own internal customer data dysfunction. More importantly, they are often the ones who are able to ensure customers remain loyal.

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