Customer experience (Cx) has risen to the top of the marketing agenda. To deliver a consistent and compelling Cx, you need to map out what you would like the customer journey to look like and which touchpoints will be involved. And that is where the problems often start.
Royal Mail Data Services carried out research into the use and management of customer contact data which discovered that, in 31.3 per cent of companies, there are three or more functions involved in data collection - at 8.1 per cent, there are more than six functions involved. Typically, marketing leads the way (48.5 per cent), followed by CRM (40.1 per cent) and customer service (33.7 per cent) and sales (33.2 per cent). But data management and IT can also be capturing customer data, alongside ecommerce and even product departments.
That adds up to a lot of data silos. At a recent Roundtable presentation and discussion of the research findings, hosted by Royal Mail Data Services in association with DataIQ, and attended by 50 delegates from leading consumer brands, a show of hands revealed that half faced this problem. It is not just that multiple customer-facing functions are capturing data, either. One delegate noted that his business had grown through acquisition, leading to almost unavoidable numbers of separate customer databases. Once third-party data is added to the mix, this delegate acknowledged that, “you see a lot of repetition”.
Growing the business by buying up competitors can be an effective strategy. However, suppose you told the board that, unless it invested in specific data management solutions, 6 per cent of the organisation’s revenues were being wasted every year through reduced marketing performance, internal operational inefficiencies and missed customer opportunities? That might make the M&A strategy look less appealing.
Yet this is the average proportion of annual revenues being lost through poor data quality, according to the research, with 6.8 per cent of companies experiencing losses at more than double the average. Perhaps even more worryingly, 33.7 per cent admit that they do not know how much poor data quality is costing their business.
Jim Conning, managing director of Royal Mail Data Services, sees a simple reason for this: “Even if data and marketing teams do work in harmony, they often find legacy systems thwart their good intentions. For 37.6 per cent of respondents to our 2016 study, legacy systems present the biggest challenge to collecting, managing and using customer data. As one delegate pointed out, this responsibility extends throughout the business from CRM systems to the organisation’s mobile web site, to make sure it is easy for users to enter their data.”
Relying on manual data entry by customers, especially on small-screen devices, without embedding validation routines is a path to poor quality data. Yet despite the problems it can cause, only 44 per cent of companies automatically check the addresses which their customers provide via a web site. Downstream from that data collection point, a whole range of problems can emerge which not only impact on the business, they also directly affect the customer experience.
Where duplicate records for one customer get created and are not merged, marketing can end up treating one record as a potential new customer and offering a product which has already been bought, for example. Or it could be that the customer calls to enquire how to use the service she has signed up for, only to be treated by the agent as a prospect. The impact on Cx is significant and contributes to that lost revenue.
Critically, all of these problems can be resolved and most are avoidable using mature, sustainable and highly cost-effective data management techniques. From using an outsourced service provider to run customer data matches through to validating and enhancing against third party, permissioned and compliant data, there are multiple options available. With a positive return on investment and improved Cx, it’s time marketing took the 6 per cent solution.