The Future Success of Customer Communications Relies on Centralized Data Management
5/12/2023 Brian Cox
Within the data-driven business landscape, centralizing data management for customer communications has become a necessity. By consolidating customer data into a central repository, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and needs — all information that can be used to personalize communication and improve the overall customer experience.
In the following, I explore some tactical insights on the benefits of centralizing data management for customer communications and the next steps organizations should consider taking to make it happen.
Benefits of centralizing data management for customer communications
Improved customer experience
According to CommerceNext’s 2023 Digital Trends and Investment Priorities report, 75% of business leaders indicated that retention and acquisition marketing are the biggest drivers for performance growth in 2023. Your customer experience plays a pivotal role in both of those initiatives.
Businesses are better positioned to gain a more complete view of their customers by centralizing their data. From preferences to purchase history, this information can be used to personalize communication and tailor the customer experience to each individual's needs.
Increased efficiency and quality
Centralized data also aids in eliminating duplicate records, reducing manual data entry, and minimizing the risk of errors. This can help streamline communication workflows and allows businesses to communicate with customers more quickly and effectively.
In addition to efficiency, maintaining accurate and up-to-date customer records is another hard-to-ignore byproduct. By removing duplicates and outdated records, businesses can improve data quality, which is critical for making informed decisions and executing effective communication strategies.
For instance, to help guide efforts to lessen disparities in the healthcare space, a survey by The Physicians Foundation found 70% of physicians recognized the importance of collecting standard patient level Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) . SDOHs are the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. According to the CDC, they are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.
Enhanced data analytics and reporting
Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” In the context of this post, it means starting with low quality or incomplete data may result in poor reporting that leads to less confident decision making and ineffective customer communications.
Data analytics rely on centralized data management because it provides a single source of truth for data. This is so important as it allows analysts to quickly and easily access the data they need to conduct their analysis. It also helps ensure that the results of the analysis — and related reports — are accurate and reliable.
The first four steps toward effective centralized data management
By following these steps, you can effectively centralize your data management efforts and improve the overall quality of your data.
Assess your current data landscape. Businesses should conduct a data audit to identify all customer data sources, including databases, spreadsheets, and legacy systems. This will help businesses understand the current state of their data and how it is being used. It will also help identify data types as well as any quality issues that need to be addressed.
Identify your data management goals. What do you hope to achieve by centralizing your data management efforts? By identifying your data management goals, it can help focus your efforts and resources on the most important areas. Without clear goals, companies are more likely to waste time and money on data management initiatives that do not align with their overall business objectives.
Develop a data governance plan. This plan should outline your data management policies and procedures. This plan involves defining data standards for customer data, including naming conventions, data types, and data validation rules. This will ensure consistency across all customer data sources and make it easier to consolidate data into a central repository.
Implement a data management tool. Ranging from cloud-based platforms to on-premise solutions, there are a number of different data management tools available, so choosing one that meets your specific needs is imperative. It can also be a bit daunting. Your due diligence should ensure this tool includes data security, scalability, and ease of use.
From here, migrating customer data to a new, centralized repository is the natural next step so that refined communication workflows can be implemented.
At this point, I think you’ll agree: centralizing data management for customer communications is critical for businesses looking to improve the customer experience, increase efficiency, and gain insights into customer behavior. However, standing this up to realize those outcomes is no small feat.
Here are just a few more tips I suggest keeping top of mind as you advocate to centralize your data management efforts:
Start small. Don't try to centralize all of your data at once. Start with a small subset of data and then gradually expand your efforts over time.
Get buy-in from key stakeholders. It is important to get buy-in from key stakeholders before you start centralizing your data management efforts. This will help to ensure that everyone is on board with the changes and that you have the support you need to be successful.
Be patient. Centralizing your data management efforts takes time and effort. Don't expect to see results overnight. Be patient and persistent, and you will eventually reach your goals.
By following the steps outlined above, businesses can successfully centralize their customer data and leverage it to enhance communication strategies and improve the overall customer experience.