Data is the lifeblood of Customer Relationship Management; it is the means by which users are informed about the customer, so they can best direct their decisions and actions to add value to the customer experience and meet business goals. The content of a CRM solution is as important as the people, processes and technology.
These six guiding principles will help you define your programme’s data strategy.
- Seek to enable better decision making, both for individual customers interactions and collectively to inform wider customer management strategy.
- Recognise that data is a tangible corporate asset and manage it as such; know why it is needed and for which customer journeys.
- Strive to add value to the customer data asset – reduce data redundancy, reduce party duplicates and improve data quality.
- Thoroughly test any matching strategies to ensure you do not create false matches.
- Design processes so they support adding value to the corporate data asset, recognising that data degrades over time.
- Make is easy to understand the context of customer data; display values descriptively, do not expose users to coded values. Records should have a named owner, an expiry date, a descriptive status, dates should be formatted consistently, and mandatory attributes should be used sparingly to ensure you can track known unknowns.
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Why customer research is an essential element of any CRM programme
It’s all too easy for the focus of a CRM programme to become too inward looking, to focus on organisational improvements.
Indeed many CRM business cases will rightly have much benefit attributed to efficiency improvements, showing a tempting reduction in headcount that will delight the cautious CFO.
By all means consider internal benefits but remember that the focus of Customer Relationship Management is the customer, and improving their experience. It could be that the operational efficiencies you have identified add value to the customer experience, but this may not be the case. The only way you’re going to find out is to talk to your customers and prospective customers.
A good starting point is to review any customer feedback you already collect, find out their concerns and the improvements they seek. Whilst this will help you progress quickly, you cannot beat pro-actively seeking customers’ views on what they perceive as valuable. This could either be through a focus group, where a moderator uses a scripted series topics to lead a discussion with a representative group of your customers, or by sending questionnaires to a similarly representative group or groups.
Once you have this insight, your CRM programme needs to find ways to deliver that value to the customers, remembering to monitor the effect on sales and loyalty, and continuing to regularly seek customer feedback and opinions.
Image Credit: Lisa @ Sierra Tierra CCBY2.0