In these days of multi channel, real-time, near time marketing it is easy to forget about the foundation of effective marketing: have an integrated view of your customers and prospects. We find that in virtually every conversation with clients the topic of customer data comes up. The discussion can range from straightforward topics such as how to use Customer Data Integration (CDI) tools to keep data clean to more complex discussions around how to effectively combine customer information from multiple business units. It’s been our experience that every company struggles in some way with the issue, but there are some clear similarities among companies that are winning the “customer data battle”.
We have found five key drivers to successful assimilation and deployment of customer data. These include: business driven data requirements, a holistic view of “customer data”, disciplined data governance, a detailed business case, and a well defined data deployment program.
1) Business Driven Data Requirements - Companies getting the most out of their customer data have their requirements well articulated and driven by current and potential users. They are able to articulate exactly what types of decisions specific data elements are supporting and how that information can be delivered to maximize business impact. These “requirements” then become the basis for what data is gathered, at what frequency, and in what technology environment. Being able to clearly define data requirements down to the user level is a great start to a successful data management program.
2) Holistic View of Customer Data - Developing an integrated view of the customer means assembling as much relevant information on a customer as possible while adhering to all legal and privacy requirements. Historically companies have kept billing information in their financial system, marketing information in the customer data warehouse, and contact information in their CRM system. Today’s high performers in this space combine behavioral, marketing promotion/response, and financial information (as well as attitudinal and demographic data) as the basis for making smarter and faster business decisions.
3) Disciplined Data Governance - A key component of an effective data management program is a defined data governance model. This model defines data ownership, data sourcing, data access, data privacy, and data security. This governance model is critical to assuring that key functional users receive the information they need while insuring the appropriate level of consistency, efficiency, and access across the enterprise.
4) Detailed Business Case - Investments in data, technology and infrastructure are typically subject to the same business case requirements as any other expenditure. The ability to identify where, how, and by how much an investment in data will drive business results is an important aspect of data management excellence. Functions asking for data capabilities should be accountable for producing incremental performance based on operating faster, better or cheaper. Having users “sign up” for business benefits is a way of maximizing the probability that data investment will have the targeted payback.
5) Data Deployment Program - When developing a data management capability it is important to avoid the “if we build it they will come” approach to deployment. It is important to have a plan on how customer information will be deployed to marketing managers, customer service representatives, financial analysts, and sales executives. The plan should include awareness, educational, and service and support components. Additionally, there should be a process for monitoring and measuring data usage to enable future enhancements/changes to the program.
Effective data management requires planning, process and strong linkages to the business. It is also an ongoing process which evolves with changes in the market, customer, and competitive environment. That said, making sure these key pieces are in place will put a company in good stead to use customer data to tactical and strategic advantage.