Why data hygiene is critical to customer centricity


Share on LinkedIn

Research shows that organisations that are structured around the customer generate seven times the return of their counterparts that are product, service, sales or geographically orientated. However, a study from McKinsey reveals that only eight per cent of companies are succeeding to integrate insight and analytics effectively, meaning a staggering 92 per cent of organisations that attempt customer centricity do not achieve it.

So with so much to gain, but a strong chance of failure, how do organisations increase the chance of success?

Firstly, it is difficult to integrate insight and analytics into a business if the corporate strategy is misaligned with the business and functional strategy. Consequently, the desire for customer centricity must come from the top and filter down. In reality however, it is often the other way round, coming from the marketing or operations teams.

To make customer centricity a priority there must be at least one sponsor at the top of the organisation. This should preferably be a C-level executive, who propounds and reinforces the benefits of data driven decision making and encourages such practice at all levels of the organisation. A commonality amongst the eight per cent of organisations that succeed with customer centricity is that thy have a data focused C-Suite.

What is clear from the above is that an organisation’s culture can be one of its most powerful assets. Conversely it can also be a significant thorn in its side. If insight and analytics aren’t already entrenched in the way an organisation operates it can be difficult to change the mindset of the entire company to focus around the customer and use data to make decisions that will ultimately benefit the customer. If this is the case it is critical to implement a culture change programme otherwise the danger is that analytics and insight just become expensive wallpaper. Unfortunately customer centricity is not just a label you can slap on the organisation and wait for the transformation to happen. In order to integrate data, insight and analytics across the business there needs to be the right data architecture in place. Only then will the right people have access to the right data. It’s the same as building a house: without the correct foundations, it will collapse. All too often

businesses chasing customer centricity buy the bells and whistles from obliging software firms without first ensuring they have the structure in place to support them.

And finally, the old adage GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) is one of the most important lessons when it comes to the success of customer centricity. Analytics and insight can only ever be as powerful as the data that drive them. If the quality of the data is poor, then so too is its output. Consequently understanding what you want to achieve and making quality data available must be a priority. This includes a regular data hygiene regime which cleans the data to ensure that it is both GDPR compliant and up to date. For instance, as a result of Coronoavirus sadly the death rate in the UK is higher than average meaning that more people are passing away which has led to an increased rate of data decay. If people that have passed away are not removed from a database then analytics will be flawed as they are based on inaccurate data.

Increasingly CRM providers are recognising the important of accurate, up-to-date data and are providing solutions for their users that enable them to clean their data securely, cost effectively and easily. Alternatively, for non-CRM users there are many solutions available on the market which enable organisations to screen their data.

Ultimately, however, for businesses wanting to be truly customer centric data should be treated as a corporate asset. The decision to become customer centric is just a small part of the battle; the journey to get there is the hard part. However, a true desire to integrate insight and analytics into the DNA of the business data can be used to power advanced tools that changes the face of decision making which in turn leads to significant returns.

Patrick Lymath
Patrick is responsible for the Mortascreen file at Wilmington Millennium. Mortascreen is the market leading deceased suppression product which enables marketers to remove people that have died from their marketing databases, saving the bereaved from the distress of receiving communications to loved ones that have passed away and bolstering marketing ROI.


  1. Hi Patrick: Thank you for your article and I agree with your conclusion: “… a true desire to integrate insight and analytics into the DNA of the business data can be used to power advanced tools that changes the face of decision making which in turn leads to significant returns.”

    However, the security of data storage is so fragile. For example, 3 billion Yahoo accounts leaked in 2013, 700 million LinkedIn users leaked in 2021, and 533 million Facebook users leaked in 2019. All the victims received were only apologies from these digital giants.

    Even if the data stored in the world’s most secure technology giant may be stolen, how can customers ensure that their data is safe?

    In 2006, Clive Humby the famous UK mathematician coined the phrase “Data is the new oil.” Business people now generally use the phrase “data is the new currency.”

    There is no doubt that data has its value, especially customer data. When a customer allows the company to use his/her data, the ownership of the data is still the customer, not the company.

    When a company leaks customer data, should the company directly compensate the customer instead of paying a fine to any other organization or entity? Considering that the customer data of so many large companies and digital giants has been leaked, should a mechanism/pricing structure be established to directly compensate for the loss of customer data?

    If there is no compensation to the customer, how can the customer comfortably let any company do any personalized things for them? This is unfair and unjust. Remember: customers own their data and the data has value, not to mention the huge value of “truly customer centric data.”

    I would love to hear your thoughts.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here