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Six critical steps to enriching customer experiences with data

“Create exceptional customer experiences.” Companies in every vertical are adopting this mantra as a way of organizing efforts to improve revenue and competitiveness.

And for good reason – McKinsey states that customer experience leaders can expect to see revenue gains of 5%–10% and cost reductions of 15%–25% within three years, compared with their current baseline(i). Those are the kind of numbers that can really turn shareholders’ heads and get the C-suite popping the bubbly.

The role of data in customer experiences

Data is a critical but often overlooked component of delivering superior customer experiences. Most of us know firsthand how bad data creates a negative experience. Getting duplicate letters from your cable company doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It’s irritating – and possibly alarming – when your doctor’s office misspells your name on a document. And getting sales offers to “switch” to a bank you’ve done business with for years can cause you to seriously think about switching – to some other bank.

Why is this type of experience so common? It’s simple – customer data records of most companies are not in great shape. Research shows that much of the customer data at many companies is incorrect or incomplete. In fact, in one Information Difference survey, only 4% of companies described their data quality as “excellent.(ii)

Why data enrichment matters

Customers, rightfully, want to be treated as if they are special. They expect the companies they do business with to know them, understand them and remember them. Delivering on that expectation requires great data.

Enriching data with as much information as possible lets you improve service, build loyalty and deliver better experiences. Having excellent data means that customer service representatives can see the full history of previous interactions when a customer calls with a question or issue. It tells an ER nurse who a patient’s primary care doctor is without having to ask. It lets an insurance salesperson already know whether a potential customer lives within a floodplain. And it spares representatives the embarrassment of using a wrong name, wrong address or wrong information when talking with a loyal, long-term customer.

Essentially, data enrichment lets you know your customer better, so you can personalize conversations, offers and solutions more accurately to deliver better service and sales.

6 steps to enriching data for exceptional customer experiences

Here are the essential steps for enriching your customer data to enable superior experiences.

  1. Assess your data. You can’t fix problems you don’t see. That’s why it’s important to first take stock of your data, see where the issues are and assess the scope of the problem. Data profiling tools can tell you how many records you have with null values, illegal values or missing values and help to identify potential duplicates.
  2. Fix problems. Merging duplicate records, filling in missing postal codes, correcting formats of phone numbers , fixing misspellings – these are the first steps in improving data quality . Much of this can be done with technology, though certain fixes will require manual intervention.
  3. Enrich data. Add data that will add value to your customer relationships. There is no single roadmap for this task and needs will clearly vary by industry. Customer data insights that an insurance company needs are different from those of a retailer or bank. One aspect of enrichment is universal to all companies, however – the need to connect and integrate customer records that currently reside in silos in different data systems. According to Information Difference(iii) studies , organizations have an average of six different systems that generate customer data; some larger enterprises may have hundreds.
  4. Look forward. Enriching data can’t be a one-off exercise. To continue providing excellent customer experiences, you’ll need to develop common formats for classifying customers and structuring data records to solve the needs of multiple business departments. Having a common structure across all records and information systems can help to resolve data duplication issues going forward while also continuing to provide your users with enriched data.
  5. Train staff. Enriched data is only helpful if your people know how to use it. You’ll want to train your staff how to best use data to satisfy customer expectations and to continually update customer records with information that will be helpful in the future.
  6. Use technology. From data profiling software to de-duplication programs and data mining tools, technology can help you enrich data to better deliver on customer expectations. The right technology must be able to integrate with various customer data and CRM systems, support data governance initiatives, simplify compliance with regulatory frameworks like GDPR and help employees to continue populating customer records with accurate, helpful and comprehensive customer data.

When you significantly improve the quality of your customer data, it inevitably leads to better experiences and happier customers. And happy customers, of course, lead to more sales, greater revenue and high-fives all around.

iDuncan, Ewan et. Al. “Customer experience: New capabilities, new audiences, new opportunities.” McKinsey & Company, No. 2, June 2017.