Customer Data Integration – Creating One True View of the Customer
A Dataflux whitepaper
In recent years, businesses have frequently ignored – or at least paid only cursory attention to –one of the most fundamental keys to success: their relationship with their customers.
The sometimes paradoxical relationship between customers and businesses arises from fundamental spheres of influence. Consumers had little influence on how businesses responded to their needs, and businesses could derive little reward by distinguishing themselves through customer relationships and superior service. In effect, businesses dictated the relationships with their customers, and customers often accepted that standard. The status quo reigned. In today’s competitive environment, the nature of customer relationships has changed. Consumers have many choices to meet their needs, and aggressive advertising or access to the Internet increasingly broadens a consumer’s horizons for competing products.
Companies are competing for the same customer, and successful businesses must provide a superior relationship with customers to stand out. In a way, the rise of customer relationship management (CRM) systems and methodologies that exploded in the late 1990s was merely a desire to return to “traditional” customer relationships. Like the mom-and-pop shops before them, successful corporations win and keep customers and prospects by establishing direct, sustainable and manageable relationships.
Before you can establish meaningful relationships, however, companies must be able to answer – with precision and confidence – one seemingly easy question. Exactly who are my customers? As organizations increasingly standardized on different data collection methods – CRM, enterprise resource planning (ERP), data warehouses, etc. – customer data often was replicated in different systems. And each business unit or division may have their own systems. This viral spread in applications led to a confused and untenable view of the customer. To maintain, manage, and track these critically important relationships and the associated customer activity, corporations are investing valuable time and resources into managing customer data with customer data integration (CDI) systems. CDI is a combination of technologies and processes that manage the integration held within customer information systems so that interactions can be managed for the mutual benefit of both the customer and the business.
After all, the ultimate success of a relationship between a business and a customer is determined by the quality of the interaction. Successful CDI results in:
• Significantly enhanced customer service by understanding what the customer needs
• Increased customer satisfaction by providing timely, informed options
• Higher customer retention as consumers view the company not as a vendor but more as a trusted provider of goods or services
• Lower cost of acquiring customers by using aggregated data sources to refine sales and marketing messages
• Better understanding of your customers, leading to better decisions in product offerings, enhancements and packaging • Reduction in duplicate critical customer information, leading to improved marketing campaign results and sound forecasting practices
• Improved business intelligence reporting by providing more accurate data to reporting applications, leading to more timely, accurate reports to decision-makers Customer data integration systems are complex puzzles with many interlocking pieces, where each individual piece serves a purpose. However complex and detailed the individual pieces are, the CDI puzzle is not finished until all the pieces are integrated and the picture is complete.
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