You Know Me, Don’t You?

It’s likely that the databases in your organization have grown up and have been expanded, although disconnected, by the silos in your organization, based on their specific silo-based needs. This means that we’re all accidentally propagating a frustrating game of customers having to repeat themselves over and over again, with each consecutive contact to take us up on our offers, tell their story, get their problem solved, or get relevant help.

Exhibit A: An insurance company ran the data in its marketing database for upsell and cross-sell. There’s a correlation between customers who have more than one policy and greater stickiness and long-term loyalty. So the insurer found customers who only had one line of business and extended them an offer to add another. The only thing is…it didn’t cross-tab its data with the actuarial database that runs separately, which manages risk.

Exhibit B: During this same time, the actuarial folks happened to run the numbers on the customers in their database and decided whose risk the company should no longer bear. Their scorecards, compensation, and metrics were based on managing tables of risk. At the time the databases were separated by lines of business, along the way the business was structured, each with its own leadership and profit and loss structure. So, you guessed it…

Exhibit C: On the same day, some customers received two pieces of communication from the same company: one originating from the direct marketing department encouraging the purchase of additional insurance to the current coverage the customer held—and another from the risk department cancelling their coverage from that very same policy.

In this example, these unfortunate customers didn’t have much of a chance. The company was asking them to leave outright with that letter from the risk department. We invite our customers to leave on a regular basis when the data we have about them doesn’t connect from one siloed operating area to another.

When customers have to tell their story multiple times to different people, or are sent conflicting messages, it puts real doubt in their mind about how much you value their business. So before you go forward with another loyalty program to earn the right to customer growth, and earn respect by showing them that you know who they are.

Silo data connection

Here are five early actions to align your organization to “know” your customers:

1. Gain agreement on the nomenclature for data capture. Every siloed database likely has different fields for data entry. Align these fields. How do you define name and address? Simple things like including a middle initial or not will interrupt the ability to line up experiences behind a customer to drive relevant communication and actions.

2. Align your customer number system. Have the hard discussion with your team and silo alignment required around “householding” multiple family members residing together or shopping from the same address. Without this agreement your database will drive a proliferation of variations that will lead to incongruous customer communications.

3. Gain agreement on the definitions of a new and lost customer and how to flag them in your database. This becomes critical and powerful information required if you’re attempting to calculate the ROI of customer experience and customer value. Lack of alignment drives ongoing downstream issues as you choose which customers to communicate with and why. And you miss the opportunity to identify, welcome, and thank your most valued customers as they interact with you, because the frontline won’t have the correct information on those customers at their fingertips.

4. Herd the cats on the multitude of data management vendors and processes. Try to agree to one vendor so that all the databases are commonly managed in terms of data cleansing and upkeep.

5. Identify the top 10 priority customer interactions that cut across multiple silos and connect the data capture for those interactions. You can start by creating a mini database that manages that information until you achieve that very long-term, 360-degree view of the customer.

Many organizations stall on some of these earlier, easier actions because they’re churning through the mountain of data in the development of a 360-degree customer view. In the meantime, they continue to lose customers due to the lack of relevance and their customers’ perceived lack of respect for them.

Reliability in how data is managed in the highest priority customer interactions will build long-term loyalty and create a learning lab for cooperation in the data sandbox.

Jeanne Bliss is owner of CustomerBliss. She is also the author of Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions to Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.

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