Winning the customer experience war begins in the data trenches


Back in 2001, when I started working in the enterprise marketing software business, customer relationship management or CRM was seen as the cure all from a sales and marketing perspective.

“If only we could more quickly send direct mailers offering a buy one, get one video rental, we could corner the market” one executive told me. CRM deployments at that time were costly and resource intensive.

My how times have changed.  But one thing hasn’t changed – there remains three critical components to consider when standing up a solid customer intelligence software solution – data, insight and action.

Data meaning a centralized data repository – containing first and third-party data. Insight being intelligence derived from the use of analytics. And action being the ability to orchestrate interactions across sales, service, and marketing touch points.

Recently, SAS partnered with Forbes Insights to look in depth at the first component in this trilogy – data. This report, Data Elevates the Customer Experience, looks at how data insights can be customer experienceused to improve the overall customer experience with brands.

It’s clear that data management and integration are crucial components of delivering customer experiences that are relevant, satisfying and valued. If the foundational component of data is not a source that is trusted, reliable, and of high quality – marketing efforts will be subpar. Period. Some interesting findings from the report:

  • 20 percent report that individuals in their organization are able to take advantage of information and derive actionable insights from data being shared across their enterprises.
  • 14 percent of executives are able to report that their data is structured on a cross-functional, synchronized way.
  • 45 percent of respondents claim their data is “not yet fully integrated”.
  • 41 percent say their data is still siloed by departments.

Primary challenges to greater insight around customer experience management are familiar: siloed business units (34 percent), legacy applications (33 percent) and siloed applications and processes (28 percent).

The recurring message throughout the report was that a centralized and integrated data store, that contains all data sources and types, provides the most benefit to organizations. Siloes are still a huge challenge and integration is still difficult – especially when purchasers of data management, analytics, and marketing applications take a best-of-breed approach – without considering how those components work together. As Mike Flannagan of Cisco stated, “IT systems may take years to integrate, and now we’re seeing it with [Internet of Things] environments.

I interpret that to mean – data and system integration has historically been difficult with backend environments – and that challenge isn't going away any time soon.

Additionally, a previous Forbes Insights report found that predictive analytics and the ability to deliver real-time insights across all channels are top of mind. However, in order to deliver these capabilities sound data management and data integration have to come first.

So what can you do at your organization if you see these same issues and want to tackle them head on? I would offer a few suggestions:

  • Consider a master data management solution. Organizations need the ability to manage multiple data domains, on-board source system data, match at the master data level and enable data governance – both at an analytical and operational level. Keeping data up to date, clean and relevant will drive better insight and action.
  • Use analytics to derive insight. If your data isn’t sound, your analytics won’t be great, but if your data house is in order, then analytics will uncover intelligence about your customers that will send your customer experiences skyrocketing.
  • Use data to inform marketing process orchestration. The better your data foundation is, the more insight you will have when setting up customer journeys and mapping them out across inbound and outbound channels and touchpoints.

These are just a few ways that you can take action to improve the customer experience. I would encourage you to look to a vendor, like SAS, that provides a truly integrated marketing solution – from data to insights to action. This will make your organization more efficient and help you to avoid the issues that our friends at Forbes found.


About Author

Jonathan Moran

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Senior Product Marketing Manager focusing on the SAS Customer Intelligence Solutions. Over 10 years experience in the Customer Intelligence industry. Very interested in the rise of social, the profitability of customers, and best practice retention strategies. Love talking sports, family, and music!

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