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Tricks of the trade: How to manage customer data

Making smarter, faster decisions using data is a worthy business objective hampered only by one thing: assurance in the quality of that data. For too long, business strategies and decision-making processes have been addressed by short-term solutions or trial-and-error fixes that cannot scale to support the kind of big data environment we live in today.

Retailers today, particularly those exercising a multi-channel strategy, must have an above average grasp on their data quality in order to rise to the challenge of meeting customer expectations. However, many still collect customer data from numerous sources, store that information in siloed warehouses, or work with third-party solution providers to manage that data.

Our research on global data management trends shows that 81 percent of retailers believe data management to be driven by multiple stakeholders in their organization, rather than by a single specialist. The problems, therefore, lie in having too many people with their hands in that data, or conversely, not having enough people who know what to do with that data. The variances in the way data is managed makes accessibility and usage—in an age where immediacy is king—more complicated than it should be.

But you, as a retail marketer, should already know the importance of managing your customer data to provide, among other things, a great experience. What consumers expect, you must deliver. Without meeting their expectations, there is no customer loyalty—and without loyalty, your customers will look elsewhere to shop.

Then there’s the actual process of managing your data quality. It’s an entirely different beast. Where does the retail marketer begin? What are the different facets that go into ensuring that the customer data you work with is the best possible version of itself? Are there industry best practices surrounding when and where to validate data?

We will address these questions and more in regards to managing your retail customer data. Your job is made difficult enough with juggling omni-channel initiatives, addressing consumers’ micro-moments of need, and consolidating customer footprints among numerous other things. We intend this guide to walk you through how to actually go about managing customer data and all the steps that it involves.

What we mean by managing customer data

If you are reading this, you have acknowledged that the data stored in your databases has failed you in some capacity. It may be innocuous: Perhaps an email was entered incorrectly at the register; no communications can be sent through and the customer is left wondering. Or, it may have more far-reaching consequences: Individuals type in emails, phone numbers, and addresses in their own formats while interacting with your brand across channels; the data streaming in is unstandardized, unverified, and possibly duplicated, all the while you assume it’s accurate enough for use.

  • Note some of the various channels through which you collect unique customer footprints:
  • Point of sale at the cash register
  • Websites (e.g. during checkout processes, signing up to receive blog notifications, following the brand on social media, etc.)
  • Call center representatives
  • Store associates with handheld devices
  • Social platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Square, etc.)
  • Mobile devices (e.g. tablets, mobile phones, wearables, etc.)
  • Kiosks or branch/field stores

How to manage customer data

Look at all the channels that you can collect customer data from! It’s a small wonder that retailers are struggling with matching customer profiles together, standardizing the different formats that data lives in, and validating its accuracy and completeness. Where do you even begin?

Managing your customer data is simply being confident that the information you collect—as you’re collecting it and as it lives in your databases—is ready for use.

How you can begin managing customer data

This will be a process, and like every sound process, it should be documented thoroughly to increase the chances of success. Once you’ve noted the channels through which you collect customer data, you can then begin prioritizing which channels need the most attention, which departments the data feeds into, which methods of data management to implement first, and ultimately who in your organization should care.

Sample question from our checklist on how to manage customer data

how-to-manage-customer-data-checklist-example.png

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Contact us to see how we can help improve the management of your customer data today!