Customer data management is a hot topic these days. And finding the best guidance and advice can be difficult given there is a range of information sources, some good, some not so good.
Many claim that the customer journey is the most important aspect of customer data management, or hosting a secure data network is key. Others claim that the sales team should retrieve full accessibility to information.
To help you sort through the noise, we asked a panel of data management experts the following question:
“What’s your top customer data management best practice of tip?”
We collected their responses and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on managing customer data. See what our experts said below:
Meet Our Panel of Data Management Experts:
As a lead solution consultant and an award-winning Sage partner, Hannah has a real passion for data and process design. With an academic background in Mathematics and Operations Management, she has spent the last 5 years applying that knowledge to the project management, design and implementation of ERP systems across a range of sectors and with organizations of varying sizes. She gets a real buzz out of seeing her clients grow and flourish as a result of her efforts.
My top customer data management tip is…
Decide on your critical data.
Most companies collect a lot of irrelevant data. Their team are entering so much that they lose track of exactly what is important. For instance how relevant is the annual revenue of the company? Do you actually use that data to define customer segments. If not…don’t worry about it, take it off the screen so your teams can focus on collecting the information that is important.
If you don’t know what your critical data is, think about how you identify or segment your customers. What criteria do you use to do that?
Think about the customer journey, you will collect different data at different stages of your interaction with your customer. During that first contact with your customer, do you really need to collect their address? Or do you simply need the first name, last name, email, phone and the product they are interested in?
At each stage you should be tracking your data completeness. i.e. out of the 5 critical fields, how many of them are actually filled out? Setup data integrity dashboards or reports that allow you to monitor data completeness by staff member. There is always one that is particularly bad at collecting the right data!
Bhavesh Vaghela is Chief Marketing Officer at ResponseTap, a market leader in call-based marketing automation. With more than 15 years of experience in Marketing IT Software and Services, Bhavesh has worked extensively across EMEA, APAC and North America.
My #1 customer data management best practice is…
Avoid siloed internal structures. These barriers stifle collaborative learning and prevent organizations from getting a better understanding of the customer journey.
With a myriad of touch points connecting customers to brands, it’s now more important than ever for these different touch points to connect and form a cohesive brand experience. But when data is not shared between departments, this cripples the ability for companies to make the most informed decisions about their customers. The process should be seamless, however, it is impossible to create a seamless customer journey when data is not shared between the different internal departments.
Remember that although we may live in an ‘always on’ world, not all data is digital, and it’s important that offline channels are also included in this data sharing effort. Call centers are one of the most relevant offline channels for businesses – organizations using call center data are privy to information based on actual conversations, which leads to much richer insights, especially compared to the one-way feedback provided by customer survey data. Yet very few businesses are actually using this call center data to understand the customer journey.
The digital marketing team – which includes the web developers, social media, paid and organic search teams – together with the more traditional PR guys, and the call center staff, all need to pool their data insights in order for the executive management team to make the best choices about what their customers are really looking for.
Frank Bradshaw is the Founder and Chief Security Consultant, Ho’ike Technologies.
When it comes to customer data management…
“Data is monetizable. A company may have value, but its data–its own data or that which it manages–and client/customer trust is its greatest asset. Add in compliance requirements (HIPAA for healthcare, financial data, etc.) and there is even more incentive to protect company data.
Bradshaw recommends companies deploy DLP (data loss/leakage prevention) steps to manage, maintain and protect data. DLP can monitor documents’ movements. For example, Bradshaw set up basic DLP rules at a law firm and within ten minutes learned that an attorney had copied nearly 50 documents (the threshold was 20). This red flag led to the discovery that the attorney was leaving the firm–and planning to take firm documents with him!”
Joe Pino is Director of Client Success for Clutch, a leading provider of advanced consumer management solutions an array of premier brands. In his role, he heads managed services and oversees operational aspects and strategic client relationships. Previously he served strategic operational roles for Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC), Fiserv (NASDAQ:FISV) and Prudential (NYSE:PRU).
My #1 customer data management tip is…
The most impactful action you can take with your data management strategy is to focus on centralization, particularly with the fast, furious, fragmented nature of cross-channel customer data. This not only enhances the visibility of your customers’ actions and preferences, but allows you to identify your Most Valuable Customers (MVCs), which most Marketers are unable to accomplish today.
In turn, this approach allows marketers to become more strategic, gain greater understanding and have greater engagements in order to deliver relevant messaging. The bottom line is, once you synthesize your data, you can control and measure it and start generating powerful results from it.
Eric Zaluski is President at ProspectTrax, Inc., a marketing automation and services company that provides end-to-end services primarily for advanced industrial manufacturers.
My #1 customer data management best practice is…
Customer data needs to be routinely captured and maintained so the companies can know and understand how to help customers easily buy. Data management begins with an easy-to-use CRM system that all customer-facing staff use to consistently chronicle all interactions with the customer.
To accomplish this, staff needs to understand and buy in to the results that can be driven by analyzing and acting on comprehensive data.
Jeff Fritz is the Founder and CEO of Storyworks OnDemand, an enterprise platform that simplifies the customer buying experience.
When it comes to customer data management…
The #1 tip is to make it easy for salespeople to access this information while in the field.
Too often CRMs are designed to assist the marketer and build backend data, rather than the salesperson who is often the one that makes the most use of this vital information. When salespeople as well as marketers can access correct information on a timely basis, stronger customer experiences happen – particularly in a more complex, relationship-based sale.
The bottom line is, make sure your information is easy to access for everyone who needs it, and that it is device portable.
Michael Fimin – the accomplished expert in information security, CEO and co-founder of Netwrix, IT security company that provides enterprises with auditing solutions. Netwrix delivers complete visibility into who did what, when and where across the entire IT infrastructure.
The proper storage of customer data requires companies’ to extra care and more rigorous approach to security, of course. It is a good news if you already have strict internal security policies in your company to protect your business critical assets, but your clients’ data should be protected even harder.
My tip on how to effectively manage customer data is…
To ensure complete visibility into your IT infrastructure and audit malicious activity and unauthorized changes to strengthen security and protect against insider misuse.
Frankly speaking, when it comes to securing sensitive data, the biggest pitfall hides in the false confidence that you know exactly what is going on across your IT systems. If all IT pros knew exactly what happens and who makes changes, why would companies continue to experience security incidents discovering them months and even years after a breach occurred? Netwrix 2015 State of IT Changes Survey revealed that nearly 70% of IT professionals still make changes to business critical IT systems without documenting them, and only 50% audit their IT infrastructures to verify that all changes are adequately made. With a large number of changes to data and system configurations it becomes hard to detect a data leak,and find the root cause if there is an inability to see what’s going on.
When a user accesses a file, downloads or shares it – all these activities are tracked in the multiple logs. When there is a decent amount of users working with sensitive information, monitoring and auditing of all these activities manually becomes an uphill task that will most likely lead to overlooked malicious changes that caused a security breach. Automated auditing ensures the sustainability of the process ensuring that no malicious change goes unnoticed to ensure the security of sensitive data.
Lauren Witte is the Associate Director of Marketing at JacksonWhite, a law firm in Mesa, Arizona. She has been working as a marketing professional in the Phoenix area for over five years.
For a top customer data tip…
The most crucial customer data to collect is how they found you. If your intake staff is failing to collect this information, implement a strategy to do so immediately. This may be in the form of a call tracking system, or may be a simple as creating an excel sheet for the person taking calls.
Chris Mullen is the Founder and CEO of Printkeg, an online printing company serving thousands of customers and primarily focused on small runs of print projects for designers, artists, marketers and small business owners.
The most important tip for management of customer data is…
Security: Managing customer data is a huge responsibility. Keeping it secure should be a businesss’ first priority. As co-founder of Printkeg, an online print business with thousands of customers, we go to great lengths to protect personal data. Mishandling that data would be a great betrayal to customers.
Sandip Singh is the co-founder of estate agent comparison website Trusted Agents.
Our #1 customer data management tip is…
To have an audit trail of all your customer data systems. You know exactly when an employee views or changes a record which is a vital security measure. In addition to greater security, having this in place reassures customers that their data is being handled responsibly.
Gina Hutchings is a Marketing Professional representing Mediahawk with over 12 years business to business experience.
A key customer data management best practice is…
Connect the online and offline activity of your customers.
Over the past 10 years call tracking has become a key part of how data is collected, as well as displaying data from the customer journey. Successful omni-channel strategies are now utilizing call tracking software to understand the on- and offline experiences of customers across all channels, at all stages of their engagement. By using analytics from phone call tracking, marketers are able to get accurate and in depth data for a full-picture of the customer journey.
Call tracking software reports will not only show you caller ID information, but more sophisticated offerings will log the keyword and source that are driving the calls, which landing pages are referring the most action and which channels are getting the leads in.
Integrating online actions as well as offline activities means you can track the sales funnel for your customer. Those closer to the funnel neck may be easier to migrate into purchase and take less effort and funds to secure a deal.
Matt Boaman is the VP of Product Development and SEO Engineer at EZSolution. Located in Lancaster, PA, EZSolution provides integrated marketing solutions for small to medium sized businesses throughout the USA.
The biggest customer data management tip I can give is…
Avoid duplicate data, such as companies or contact information. Not only is this a waste of space, but more importantly it causes frustration for employees using the data and also potential customers who are receiving inquiries as a result of the duplication.
For example, suppose there are two companies in your CRM with the same contact information: Company A and Company B. Company A could already be a client for the company. A new sales person will look very uninformed when soliciting Company B to try and sign them up for the service that they already have under another entry in your system.
Duplicity happens very frequently as companies change business names, move addresses, or transfer phone numbers. Imagine that both Company A and Company B are both in the same outbound marketing campaign and are simultaneously receiving letters in the mail. This is a waste of money, and also makes the company sending the letter look bad.
As a result, make sure whatever CRM you’re using, or whatever data set you’re working with, that the data is clean and unique to the situation.
Wojciech Gryc is the CEO of Canopy Labs, a company that helps businesses build and optimize customer journeys.
My #1 customer data management tip is…
Create and use a universal customer ID (UCID) as soon as possible. A UCID enables you to map customer data across your marketing channels and internal systems — it gives you the ability to generate a holistic, 360-degree view of every customer and ultimately affords you the ability to respond to each person’s unique needs.
Austin Paley is the Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media.
When it comes to customer data management for marketers…
It’s important that each individual that visits your site has his or her own dedicated space in your CRM. Whether it’s through your own custom CRM solution, or something like SalesForce, it’s necessary to track what users do each time they come to your site, so that you can better understand them on an individual level and tailor your marketing initiatives to their needs.
We look at things like how users got to your site, the date and time of their visit, how long it’s taken them to take an action on the site, and what pages they are visiting. We want to understand their behavior at different points of the conversion funnel so that we can identify what tactics to implement in order to get our users to convert. By making the pathway from our marketing data to our sales data relatively seamless, we can really understand our users on a much more detailed basis.
Justin Kerby is a co-founder of Cave Social a digital marketing agency with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Toronto.
My number one customer data management tip is…
Accuracy supersedes all.
Data quality is about more than just technology, which can only do so much. Building incentive programs for customers will allow businesses to capture much more specific, quality information. In the end, this type of data is extremely useful.
Kevin Barnicle is the Founder and CEO of Controle, an Information Governance Software and Consulting company. He has been consulting with companies on data management tips.
The single best practice in data management is…
Get a thorough understanding of how data is currently being handled in your environment. Over the years, I have been shocked on how many customers don’t take the time to get a true understanding of what is going on with the electronic data in their environment. For most customers, it’s a real mess. The only way to come up with a strategy to manage it appropriately is to first assess the damage, and THEN pick tools/processes to help fix it.
Carlos is an innovative thought-leader with over 20 years’ experience as a B2B marketing practitioner and industry visionary. Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic integrated marketing, Demand Process, Demand Transformation℠ and marketing automation. As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Carlos drives strategy and leads core practice teams to Transform Demand℠ for enterprise clients globally.
I would say the number one tip for customer data management is…
Have a data governance strategy and process in place.
Too many organizations do not put in the proper safeguards to prevent data corruption and as a result, limit their ability to effectively communicate and engage their customers; not to mention, bad data results in money left on the table from up-selling or cross-selling opportunities missed. Too often we hear from marketing executives, “we just hope our customers don’t call and ask for what products they own.”
Paras Arora is VP Business at TargetingMantra.com, which is a fast paced #500Strong company based out of Silicon Valley. They provide e-commerce personalization to companies like Yepme, Zansar, BabyOye, etc. (similar to Amazon and Zappos).
My the #1 customer data tip is…
Identify, justify and segregate:
First, be aware of the data protection principles.
Now, identify the type of information you want to store, justify why you need it and then segregate them into buckets based on gender, age, geo-location, etc. The information can be on your customers or even potential customers that includes name, address, or any personal details, even the ones taken electronically from e-commerce transactions etc.
For example, you have a male customer who is 23 years old living in San Francisco. You have the information on age, gender, and location which you can put into the segregation buckets. This will not only help you in customer data management, but also help you reach your customer better.
Sean Gallahar, Social Media Director at i7 Marketing.
My #1 tip for customer data management is…
Always make sure your customer data is secure.
Due to enormous amount of data hacks in the last year, and constant threat on cyber security, it’s important to have your customer data backed up on an external drive that can’t be accessed online even though it will be used to access online data.
Your customers’ trust is valuable, and if you can’t protect their information, they won’t trust you. So make sure that you are doing everything you can protect that trust, and tell your customers that you are protecting their information.
Berrin Sun is a Product Marketing & Consultant at Ragic, a customer database management system.
My #1 customer data management tip is…
Stop using Excel and move on to a database system. It’s shocking how people still use spreadsheets to manage data. There is no way of access control and it gets out of hand very fast.
Using a database where you can centralize information, assign different access rights to individuals in your company, and finding the data you need immediately is paramount for businesses.
Wade Benz is the owner and founder of USimprints.com, an online provider of branded promotional products and imprinted giveaways. He started the site in his basement with the help of his father who has more than 30 years experience in the industry.
One of the best things you can do to manage your customer data is….
Segment your clients into more than just one category. Good customer data is crucial to a successful organization. Over categorize them into as many different segments as you can at the beginning. It will empower your marketing, service, and sales team to take smarter and more impactful actions at the start of a customer’s relationship with you.
A few of the segments of customer data we use are: industry, buying frequency, region, personal buyer demographics and preference of communication.
Data-Driven Solutions from NGDATA