Today’s consumers are not just individuals we actively sell to; they are informed buyers. They use search and social media networks before they purchase, and they decide when and where to engage with your brand. They expect the company behind the brand to engage with them as a single entity, aware of any previous interactions. Gaining a holistic understanding of the relationship requires a company to have an informed, customer-intelligent perspective that is relevant to their patrons’ particular needs. Without it, all can be at risk.
Companies interact with their customers through multiple communications channels, departments and business units, each with its own reasons for collecting customer data. The result is the creation of data silos that create an incomplete or even incorrect view of the customer. This can keep companies from truly knowing their customers and engaging with them from a single, integrated viewpoint.
Data silos often result from how an organization is structured. Each channel, department or business unit is invested in its particular role in the company and interacts and collects data on customers based on that role. Customer engagement is driven through a variety of independent legacy systems. As a result, most companies end up practicing multichannel marketing one channel at a time.
For many companies, the complexity of bridging the silos is overwhelming. Realistically, because of costs and business interruptions, they have absolutely no desire to start from scratch to design one central data warehouse. Many of the large organizations that decided to tackle the issue head-on have found themselves mired in multiyear projects that have no apparent end.
Distributed databasing, which connects legacy systems and their operational advantages to a central warehouse designed to orchestrate consumer engagement, may be the answer. By de-emphasizing functionality and the need to replace application marts, it allows the company to focus on consumer engagement in the same way the consumer sees his or her relationship with the company. Project time is reduced, total cost is lower and the project can be completed in phases.
Everyone benefits from bridging data silos. Ultimately, how the data is handled and what tools are used depends on the organization’s overall customer engagement strategy.
A cross-functional, coordinated approach to customer engagement helps to foster more personalized, relevant overall relationships with your customers.