Customer Data Management is Crucial

“Master data management is a discipline that goes hand in hand with information governance. Forward-thinking organizations are instituting processes to gain agreement on roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures surrounding the maintenance of a single view of the entities needed for conducting business and measuring its performance.” – Henry Morris

There is no denying the importance of data for any business – it helps a company understand its customers, predict behaviour, and determine the path that the company would need to take in order to gain maximum benefits. The good news is that the market is now flooded with several tools to manage data, which a company can adopt for its own company’s customer data management. This would enhance the company’s capability to analyse, monitor, and measure customer behaviour, buying patterns, their current and possibly future ‘interests’, and any other type of information on the customer that would help to customize and personalize products and solutions better for them. The better a company understands its customers, the more its chances of success – knowing individual customers allows a company to cater to their unique requirements.

Customer data management is about collecting, evaluating, and managing the data that a company has on customers. The main aim of customer data management is to enhance a company’s capability to resolve customer problems by providing solutions that would be the best and optimum one for their particular issue. Such attention to customers would in turn result in higher levels of engagements, leading to customer loyalty and brand advocacy. There is no other way for a company to give customers what they want than by having a clear understanding of the customer requirements, and knowing ‘who they are’. With so many tools and advanced software now available in the realm of customer data management, there really is no excuse for any company to fail at this critical task. What steps does your company take to ensure that it manages customer data well for its own success?

Since service to customers happens through the company’s employees, and employees would be the ones to manage customer data and information, it makes sense to focus on them, to start with. Simply hiring good employees, skilled in data management is not enough – it is essential to provide them with regular training and development opportunities in order to enhance their productivity, especially in the realm of customer data management and analysis. While the task of analysing and managing data may seem simple, it actually requires specific skills and focused training. Understanding customer data at a deep and insightful level is essential for a company to customize and personalize their offerings for customers – but this task requires a ‘trained eye’. Investing in training for the front line employees, and those that would be responsible for customer data management, is a sound and wise investment in the future and success of the company.

Given that customer data management is critical for a company and that ensuring privacy and confidentiality of this data is non-negotiable, a company would need to ensure control by putting in place a centralized data base system. This would lead to better control for the company over customer data – it eliminates errors caused by human inefficiency, removes duplication, ensures that the service agents have all the information on customers, updated, and at their fingertips for easy retrieval and usage, enhances the efficiency and speed of responses to customers. In addition, every department that uses this database, would remain aware of their responsibility to update the information when required, thereby ensuring cooperation and collaboration between teams. For any business to work well continuity and operational efficiency are a necessity. A centralized customer data management is a highly potent tool towards achieving this. Everyone using the system would realize that their efficiency in serving customers (external or internal) would be dependent on the system, ensuring that everyone would do their part in consistently updating it, such that customer information is always current and relevant.

Incorrect and or incomplete customer information can cause undue delays, and lead to breakdown in customer communication. Through the proper use of customer data management software a company would be able to capture all customer information accurately. Customers interact with a company for a number of reasons, and through various channels. Customer data management then is about capturing information from all these sources – information on demographics, social media activity and ‘behaviour’, buying history and other such information that is not typically business related. Putting all this information in a centralized location against the particular customer, provides deep insights into each customer allowing a company to reach out to them on issues and topics that customers may not even realize that they needed up to now. Customers view such ‘attention’ as care, and would be more likely to stick with a company that seems to know and understand them better than anyone else.

A centralized system for customer data management would ensure that all those who may have access to creating and updating customer records do so in a standardized and uniform manner. There would be no point of maintaining a database replete with inaccuracies and inconsistencies – customers would soon lose faith in the company. Imagine one customer receiving an account statement of another simply because the address mentioned against a customer’s name was incorrect. Not only would this lead to a high level of negativity and distrust, a company would make itself vulnerable to litigation – several companies have had to shut down owing to litigation suits from customers. It would be prudent then, for a company to ensure that the responsibility of customer data management be assigned to a small and efficient group of employees – the core task would be ‘pull’ data from all departments and update the system with the relevant information. This allows the company to have better control and have a system that always works accurately.

Customer relationships are dynamic. Companies lose and gain customers all the time, but make the crucial mistake of forgetting to purge old records even after the stipulated number of years. This not only creates an overload in the system, the room for error and duplication increases – for example, a customer may have left a long time back, and by not removing the details from the system, there could be problems if the customer returns but has completely different details. The system could easily ‘pick up’ the old records, causing delays and interruptions in the transactions with the ‘old’ new customer.

The importance of customer data management cannot be overemphasized and should never be underestimated. Customers expect efficiency, confidentiality, special and speedy service – none of these are negotiable, and unless a company manages the data it has on each customer, none of these aspects would be possible. It would be impossible to create business intelligence and marketing strategies – so essential for the success of a company. A company’s prime reason for being in existence is customers – not serving them well could potentially sound the ‘death knell’ for a company. Companies may still be on the learning curve with regard to customer data management, but what is necessary to use the learning to avoid costly mistakes, meet the goals of the business, and most importantly provide a level of service that would keep customers loyal, and make them walking brand advertisements.

 

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