What would you do if you had so much data about your customers that you know could know (almost) everything about your customer when they contacted you? Better yet, what if you had the ability to instantly know the exact offer for service or product that would pitch the right ‘sales’ approach that your customer would immediately sit up, take notice and spend money?
Most of you would jump at the chance to have this information about your clients. You may be willing to open up the checkbook for a huge amount of money to make this happen. What if I told you that you don’t need to do much more than get a better grasp on your data and understand how to use that data to build a better overall view of your customer?
Granted, you may need to collect a bit more data (and perhaps find new types of data) and you may need to implement some new data management processes and/or systems, but you shouldn’t have to start from scratch unless you have no data skills, people or processes. For those companies that already have a data strategy and a team of data geeks, building a customer-centric view with data can be extremely rewarding.
This customer-centric, data-driven approach is what most organizations are driving toward with their digital transformation initiatives. Graeme Thompson, Informatica CIO, has argued for the importance of a customer-centric approach for some time. According to Graeme:
“You have to think about [digital transformation] in a connected way across the entire company. It’s no longer about executing brilliantly within one functional silo. CIOs see the end-to-end connection [of different functions] across the entire company – how all these different processes need to work together to optimize the outcome for the enterprise, and, most importantly, for customers.”
Many companies consider themselves ‘customer-centric’ and have built programs and processes in order to ‘focus on the customer. They may have done a very good job in this regard but there’s more than can be done. Most organizations have focused on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a way to help drive interactions with clients. While a CRM platform is important and necessary, most of these platforms are nothing more than data repositories that provide very little value to an organization beyond the basics of ‘we talked to this person’ or ‘we sold widget X to that customer.’
These ‘customer-centric’ companies can be even more custome_r-centric by becoming a data-driven organization. They have taken a small subset of customer data and built their entire customer engagement process around that data set. That approach has worked OK for years, but with the data available to companies today, there’s no need to rely solely on that small data set.
Utilizing proper data management and the data lake concept, companies can begin to build much broader viewpoints into their customer base. Using data lakes filled with CRM data along with customer information, social media data, demographics, web activity, wearable data and any other data you can gather about your customers you (with the help of your data science team) can begin to build long-term relationships built on more than just some basic data.
In the white paper titled ‘Game Changers: Meet the Experts Behind Customer 360 Initiatives,’ there are some very good examples of how companies have become much more customer-centric and data-driven. A few examples from the paper are:
- FASTWEB uses Salesforce as much more than just a CRM. Their Salesforce instance includes a view into the customer by providing lists of latest invoices, the status of those invoices, payments and other key customer relationship data.
- PostNL, a mail, parcel and e-commerce company, has changed their focus from simple ‘addresses’ to one that is focused on the customer by focusing first on data, then on the customer. No longer is their focus on getting a package from point-A to point-B, it is on using data to ensure the customer’s needs are met.
- Bradley Corporation, a 95-year old manufacturer of plumbing fixtures implemented a Product Information Management system to ensure that data is up-to-date and accessible for their more than 200,000 products. This system simplifies the ability for their customers to find the right parts quickly and easily.
In addition to better relationships with your customers, a data-centric approach can help you better predict the activities of your customers, thereby helping you better position your marketing and messaging. Rather than hope your messaging is good enough to reach a small percentage of your customer base, the data-centric approach can allow you to take advantage of the knowledge, skills and systems available to you and your data team to create personal and individual programs and messaging to help drive marketing and customer service.
Originally published on CIO.com