Improving customers’ experiences through data unification

Customers data

Customers, and their expectations, are in a constant state of change. Whether it’s multi-channel, cross-channel, integrated, digital, brick and mortar or otherwise, modern businesses need to be connected to their audience at any time and any place. 

To further complicate the matter, the more a particular customer interacts through these different mediums – across departments and stages of the buying process – the more difficult it becomes to accurately track all of that information and tag it to that individual.

That’s because a person doesn’t have one consistent identity online. They use different emails and aliases (just as you probably do), so your customer service team may know the person as Jack Davis, but your third-party data provider lists him as JDavis2, and so on. Making the incorrect connections between data points or missing them entirely is easy to do when your contacts are interacting with you via a variety of channels.

The conclusion of this dilemma? Overlooked audience segments, duplicated efforts, incorrectly targeted customers and an overall confusing and costly experience. For instance, according to Gartner, more than 90 percent of marketers struggle to integrate more than three channels throughout the buyer’s journey. When was the last time you interacted with a brand through fewer than three channels before making a purchase?

Wrangling fragmented data

Fragmented data is a concern for any business, and for any department – but customer data can be some of the most complex and mismatched of them all. 

Your customers not only come from various sources, but it’s likely that the data you already have has been enhanced with new details from venders, third parties or enrichment services. Customer data is easily mixed up with duplicate and mismatched records when you take into account the growing number of technology solutions and software venders that firms use each year.

One of the biggest factors complicating CX efforts and preventing truly people-based marketing is this fragmented data collection method. That said, the unification and matching of incoming customer data is possible – and necessary.

Although it sounds fairly simple to combine and match data from different systems, the intricacy of consumer data can turn it into a time-consuming, if not expensive, task. Fortunately, it’s also a tactical route to getting genuine value from your data if you keep a few important best practices in mind and have the proper kind of expertise.

What is “data unification”?

While humans are dynamic, customer records in our systems remain static. People change jobs and addresses and pick up new pastimes, for instance. For businesses attempting to maintain accuracy about their target demographic, this presents a significant hurdle.

No matter what’s changed in a consumer’s life, data unification technology enables enterprises to combine user data in order to deliver the correct messages to the right people. Data unification connects assets from incomplete data sets, siloed spreadsheets and outdated records obtained from a variety of platforms, devices, channels and more into a single, unified perspective in a trustworthy manner. It provides you with a single source of truth that enables you to put full faith in your data.

Five ways data can improve the customer experience

First, data takes the guesswork out. By accurately matching and linking customer records, businesses gain insight into consumer habits, preferences, purchases and more by unifying that data into a single window. Users can decide on future strategies and tactics wisely and strategically with a more integrated, consolidated database. Anyone in the organisation can confidently access and segment the same window to troubleshoot or unearth new insights without running the risk of team members just acting on instinct when insights don’t make sense.

Second, streamline marketing messaging. Customers are likely to access channels through multiple sources, leading to a buildup of customer profiles. This leads to duplicate emails and messages – leaving a confused and frustrated consumer. By merging or deleting duplicate records and maintaining one unified record using data matching and unification, you can streamline the communications process for both you and your customers.

Third, track users throughout the buyer’s journey. With a more consolidated view of their customers, businesses have the opportunity to deliver a more customized experience for individual consumers as they interact with the brand using particular devices, search terms and reasoning. 

Personalized offers and marketing messages can be triggered automatically based on where the user is in the funnel. The data that feeds these initiatives must also be 100 percent reliable because such campaigns are frequently triggered in real time.

Fourth, pave the way for advanced automation. Disparate data hinders the ability for AI and ML platforms to function at their full potential. Automated, AI-powered business software is essential for businesses to quickly make strategic decisions. Users can create highly tailored, triggered or automated communications to customers with the least amount of work and for the greatest payoff by using unified data that has been brought together in an accurate and accessible way.

Fifth, glean deeper customer insights. Matched data provides the foundation for building complex customer profiles, pulling all of an individual’s data from multiple interactions to form a complete and granular view of a consumer for future campaigns, cross-sell and up-sell efforts. You get two benefits here. For one thing, you get more accurate and holistic analysis of the data. For another, individual records will have a more comprehensive perspective of the customer, allowing you to take effective action on things like average lifetime value, behavioral trends and purchase history. 

Maximize your data assets

Organizations nowadays don’t have to know how to get more data or worry about not having enough data to optimize the customer experience. Rather, businesses can derive unanticipated value from the data they currently hold and use on a regular basis by enhancing its accuracy, accessibility and validity. Use the five best practices detailed above to create the data unification that will transform your business.