How can we achieve a general overview of our customers from different data sources?

This was one of the questions discussed during Webbdagarna CMO Summit back in June this year. It seems to be the story for most companies where different parts of the organization knows different things about the same customer, but no entity has the full picture. My personal favorite example of this is whenever I get a call from my internet supplier. The call usually goes something like this:

Sales rep: Hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a great offer running right now (and they go into explain the offer). Would you be interested?
Me: Perhaps, but can you first tell me when my current agreement with you expires? And how would this work together with these other add-on packages that I subscribe to?
Sales rep: Eh, sorry can’t help you there. I’m just working with sales and only hold information about this particular offer. Can’t see anything about your current agreements.
Me: Well then I can’t consider this new offer without having the details for these areas of my agreement with you . Thanks for calling!
Sales rep: But it’s a time limited offer!

And then follows a serious persuasion campaign from the sales representative, but I stand firm that since I can’t get information from them on how it would affect my other agreements I’m not ready to pull the trigger on this new great offer. To be clear, this is not the sales representatives fault. At best they work at the actual company, but in many cases the sales calls are outsourced. But the problem still remains.

So back to the question ‘How can my company achieve a general overview of our customers from different data sources?’. Well first let’s mention the fact that sometimes you might not be able to do that at all due to regulatory or legal reasons. Even if it would make great sense from a business perspective to cross reference all the data, in some cases you are simply not allowed.

But if that is not a hindrance then I believe that this process starts at the same level as my previous blog post about preventing silos between departments. It’s imperative to get the different departments to share their knowledge about your clients. Everyone has some insight; it might be technical and usage statistics from IT, Helpdesk knows common problems and issues, Sales holds valuable information about the customer, and so on. Add this to a client centric model where you strive to achieve a contextual view of all your clients and then push that data to all parts of the company. Done correctly it will empower your employees to help the clients every step of the way. Then quite possibly advance your overall business goals.

The actual technical areas at hand will be within the big data and business intelligence fields and tools such as a CRM system integrated to the other sources would be your best friend. A first step is to appoint someone or some roles within the organization to own the data and the process surrounding it, whereas the next step would be to get the data into the system. But don’t stop there! Find out where this consolidated data and contextual client view would help out most and make sure it ends up there. It might be as described earlier at Sales or Helpdesk, but furthermore other systems such as your website should use this data to help the client with automation or personalization.

In my case, if the sales representative would have known about my other agreements with the company and could have answered my other questions, I would have been likely to accept this new offer as well. The last blog post mentioned the ‘digital chicken’ but this time I tell you to get your digital ducks in a row.