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Why a universal customer view is the key to tackling ‘infobesity’

I was delighted to recently feature in IT Pro Portal with this article that looks at how customer identity and motivations are being hidden by the data deluge.  You can check it out here and read it below.

Whilst many businesses understand the challenge for more personalised and seamless experiences, they struggle to cope with the growing volumes of data available. It’s predicted that by 2025 the ‘datasphere’ will grow to 163 zettabytes – ten times the 16.1ZB of data generated in 2016. It’s no surprise that less than one in five (19%) say they are unlocking the full potential of their data to improve their relationship with customers.

This torrent of information is causing an ‘infobesity’ problem. Businesses are faced with an information overload. They have so much data, it can be overwhelming to know what to do with it all. How can they turn that data into useful information, unlocking its value and delivering better outcomes for their customers?

The research revealed that several factors are preventing businesses from gaining a comprehensive view of their customers. These include a variety of information (35%), too many disparate data sources (35%), the volume of information (33%) and lack of data standardisation (30%).

Bringing together all the relationships a customer (or prospect) has with an organisation is a principal and critical step in overcoming the ‘infobesity’ challenge.

Much has been written and said about the importance of defining a ‘single customer view’, using data matching tools and techniques to bring together the right data to reduce duplication of effort, save costs and make better decisions. This has primarily been seen as a technical solution to the challenge of multiple data stores that have popped up over the years, but with the myriad of data growing all the time, it’s now more appropriate to consider how analytics can move us beyond basic matching to develop a deeper, more meaningful understanding of customers and touch-points. The goal is for better customer insight as a critical priority and is better defined as a ‘Universal Customer View’.

This evolution offers an accurate view of an individual customer at every engagement point.  A ‘universal customer view’ unifies all customer data and provides a fully rounded view of the customer. It goes beyond showing how to best market to customers, it empowers the organisation to uncover opportunities to increase efficiencies and profitability in key ways.

Four steps to a universal customer view: Investigate, Assess, Improve, Control

Experian’s research revealed that organisations believe 30% of their contact and prospect data is inaccurate. This clearly has huge implications for businesses given 81% rely on this data to make key decisions (Experian Global Data Management Research, 2018). Today, most organisations operate under an umbrella covering many internal businesses that have been aligned to specific markets and are fragmented and siloed. Channels and products are often independent of any existing services. Organisations typically end up maintaining multiple, disparate systems with no commonality across data assets.

To benefit from any common view of your customer base, whether consumer, commercial or both, you need the ability to build a consistent actionable data-set that is both accurate and easily maintained. The imperative is to focus on the data and consolidate, clean, fix, link and enrich with additional customer insights across all data assets within a business. This is regardless of whether this is done within the client environment itself or, to further remove the complexity of such a challenge, within the domain of a partner.

Tools such as Experian’s Aperture Data Studio, which combines self-service data quality with globally curated data sets, can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to achieving a universal customer view. But it also comes down to process. To help businesses, Experian has created a four-step guide to addressing the data management needs of any organisation, across any market sector.

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Staying in control

The real value of a universal view of customers relies on the ability to maintain it and ensure its integrity over time. Data decays and new insights become available, so it is vital, both when building a universal customer view and in the control step, that the organisation has the functions in place to preserve an accurate and up to date view of data in a way that fits into business-as-usual processes.

Better customer insight is a critical priority for 8 in 10 businesses (Experian Global Business Review, 2018) yet less than a fifth (19%) can currently harness all data to optimise customer interactions. This is the end game of a universal customer view.

Take the biggest data-driven opportunities in the next five years – analytics, real-time processing, AND automation. Realising these opportunities requires accurate and up-to-date data which will help enable more efficient processes, freeing up people to focus their efforts where greater return can be seen such as innovation and relationship building. It makes for more efficient and effective business processes, and higher growth opportunities.

Through more holistic and reliable customer insight, organisations can make more intelligent, data-driven decisions and stop relying on subjectivity to make decisions; something that plagues 40% of businesses (Experian Global Business Review, 2018). The benefits of this level of insight can be seen across business functions from customer experience and operational efficiency to regulatory compliance, risk identification and decisioning. Enhanced insight also provides value at each stage of the customer lifecycle, the value of which cannot be understated.