Direct marketers are able to personalize consumer experiences across multiple touchpoints with the advent of digital marketing and new software packages. Customers who visit a website, for example, experience a personalized encounter that assembles the Web page relevant to the customer’s relationship. A book store site will present new titles in the customer’s known genre of interest. A travel site will recapture and present information on destinations the customer has indicated a preference for on previous visits. Similarly, these applications will give customer service representatives customer profile and history information to create a relevant and personalized call center experience.?
All of this, of course, is driven by data that must be accurate and complete. Therein lies the problem. The applications that enable this kind of consumer experience are often marketed for execution in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) mode. The assumption is that the organization’s IT department will simply link existing data sources to the application, and use that data to drive the encounters. Unfortunately, there are several problems with this assumption.?
Information the organization has on the customer may be wrong. Most customer-specific data that is not transactional in nature relies on human input. Typos, data purposely entered incorrectly by a customer with privacy concerns, and forms not properly completed can all contribute to the problem.?
A customer may also have multiple records in various data sources. Will Smith, W. H. Smith, and Bill Smith may look like different people to SaaS applications linked to data sources that have not been integrated into a single repository.? The company may have a customer’s email address collected by a Web form that gives the company permission to use it, but that address might not be visible to other, non-integrated data sources. ?
The only answer is to integrate disparate data sources into a single database or data warehouse before deploying applications designed to personalize consumer experiences. Taking that step will assure that every consumer encounter will be based on accurate, reliable and complete information — enriching the experience, enhancing the relationship, and driving higher sales.