Transforming customer data into the actionable customer insight

7 strategies to make rich customer data your competitive advantage

The role and potential of proper customer data management for CRM strategy is huge. Failure to utilize customer data in the right way can lead to a break-down in the sales, marketing and service cycle. It is also difficult to perform targeted marketing, as you own little or inaccurate information about your client. Your salespeople are not likely to achieve more win rates due to their decreased real productivity, when customer information is not sufficient or accurate or overloaded. You will also struggle with serving customers better, because the information is lacking or is not accessible promptly.

This is where having rich customer data will help provide outstanding customer experience. Such data plays a big role in making well informed management decisions at all levels – operational, tactical as well as strategic. You will also see improvements in the daily running of the business.

This may sound pretty obvious but the more you know about your customer and the more intellectual the information is, the more value you will add to your clients. Many companies wrongly presume they are well placed to use customer data in the most efficient way. Unfortunately, the surveys and real practice show that there is still much room for improvement.

The following you will see outlined techniques that could help maximise the rewards of proper customer data management:

Introduce correct data structure before you begin to collect customer data

As you start to manage customer data more closely, it is important to identify exactly which client data is required to reach strategic goals. Here is an example: if your company’s strategic objective is to provide better customer experience first of all you would like to have the answers to the basic questions of what knowledge about the customer will help you improve your customer experience and how exactly you will use the data.
If you decided to collect data about client’s hobby it’d be smart to have realistic use-cases as to how the information about the hobby will be used in order to enhance experience.

This approach allows identifying the data that will have the biggest impact on achieving your goals. At the same time, you can cast away information that will not help you to reach your objective thus will only clutter up your customer data management system.

It is quite useful to build the customer data map and structure this knowledge introducing several categories such as:

  • General information
  • Profile information
  • Historical information
  • Personal information
  • Social Insights

The information that is collected through various sources but is not used should not be included in the above categories.

Use a stepped approach when collecting customer data

Adopting a phased approach to collecting customer data will help you to walk before you run.

You’re unlikely to get all of the customer data you require from the outset. But as your contact becomes warmer you get more opportunities to find out required information.

Naturally, your business processes should be designed according to this logic. On every process step the system hints mandatory and optional information. If you have a process-based CRM solution, depending on the history of interactions with the client, the information user is notified as to what data he/she needs to acquire.

Of course, when the client is contacting you with a service request it is not the right time to collect vital data about the client. However, when the case is closed and the client is grateful it could be the right moment to pose additional questions to enrich your customer data.

Thus, to obtain vivid data structure it is necessary for each business process step to define the required data.

It is beneficial when your customer data management system has contextual interface. In this case on each of the process steps the user will be provided only with the portion of information needed at that step whilst not displaying the unnecessary information / stages.

Introduce continuous customer data improvement

Proper customer data management requires continuous observation and implementing specific processes to eliminate data duplication.

Along with standard tools for duplicate data management you can use complex techniques (including BI capacities) to continuously enrich your data.

Profit from mobile applications

How many times are the sales opportunities missed due to lack or unavailability of actual customer data for customer-facing representatives? Mobile CRM application will be helpful in order to overcome this hurdle. With mobile technology your sales reps can update customer information in the system almost in real-time. For example, when your sales rep has completed the meeting he/she can register the results of the meeting in the customer data management system right away. That makes the valuable input accessible to the other customer-facing reps much faster. Of course having this feature available in offline mode is even better.

Empower your staff with aggregated indicators instead of making them dig into customer interaction history

The key flaw with the traditional customer data management system you might face is that it shows tons of customer information to the user which he/she needs to analyze fast to make quick conclusions, while all this time the client is on hold over the phone.
The smarter way to deal with customer data is to have the system that provides user with the aggregated indicators based on customer profile and interaction history.

Thus, when the client contacts the company the operator does not need to delve into the history of the customer - there may be hundreds of events. The system should have a mechanism for providing aggregated findings and conclusions, giving different users the snapshots relevant to their role. This approach enables your sales or service representatives to make well-thought decisions and provide the customer with the best possible solution for their query.

Let me add a screenshot of BPMonline Agent Desktop to give an example of the aggregated customer indicators that will help your call centre agents:

Introduce gamification to engage your employees in the customer data collection processes

When implementing customer data management system many companies may face that their employees are reluctant to enter the information into the system as they hardly understand how this could help in their work. Therefore, companies need to have detailed cases, which would explain why the data needs to be carefully brought in to the system and how exactly each employee benefits from this data.

Here is when the gamification approach could help. You could reward users with points based on how actively they input the customer data.
The system with gamification features will automatically identify and praise your best-performing employees (in terms of how active they are in registering valuable customer data).

Ask social networks – use the power of social insights

Searching for customer-related information in the social profiles has already become a common practice for lots of businesses worldwide.

Such services as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, can be helpful not only to obtain simple profile data but also to grasp the links of the contact you are interested in, his / her background, work experience, etc. Such knowledge can definitely enhance your sales effectiveness.

However, when doing so you may want to avoid making your customers feel they are under a ‘Big Brother’. The question each company has the opportunity to answer is: how best to utilize the customer data so acquired from public sources (I would not want to put this question directly to the client for obvious reasons!)

If you do your homework upfront and maximize the effectiveness of your customer data management processes, then you can make rich customer data your competitive advantage and start reaping even more benefits from this knowledge.