Your customer data and how you handle it is an indicator of how successful your business is. In fact, poor customer data management leads to bad customer experiences, slow processes and now - with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in effect - increased risk. If you’re not GDPR compliant, you face massive fines and negative attention.
How do you know if you have a customer data problem? Six signs indicate if your business has customer data management issues and if you’re not complying with the GDPR.
Sign #1 - You struggle every time you need customer information
Does searching for a customer name give you several customer accounts? Are your employees spending massive amounts of time and effort sorting out personal data requests from consumers, per the GDPR? Do you need to go through several systems, departments and employees to track down simple information? When you update data in one system, is the corrected record not shared with other systems?
If you answered yes to all or some of these questions, you probably have a data silo problem, where your systems are not integrated, and you don’t have a single customer view. This is causing wasted resources because your employees spend a lot of time searching for and quality-checking information. It also produces poor customer experiences because you can’t serve your customer if you don’t know who they are or what they like.
Sign #2 - Your customer service comes up short
Consumers will abandon a company if they receive poor customer experience across channels of engagement. In fact, nine out of 10 choose to share their poor experiences with family and friends, online and offline, thereby leaving even more people with a negative impression of your brand.
The one person who addresses your customer service represents a unique opportunity for your business to turn a negative experience into a positive one. It is a lost opportunity if your customer service department does not deliver the experience customers want. One of the biggest barriers? The customer service employee does not have access to the systems they need to better serve the customer with information related to their stock status, order status, customer or product information.
If your customer service ratings are not as high as you would like or your employees express frustration about not being able to provide optimal service, then it could be a sign that your data setup is not adequate. You may want to look at reorganizing your systems so that the employees in question have access to the information they need.
Sign #3 - Customer data maintenance is based on damage control
If you find that your business spends more time reacting to customer requests and complaints than proactively anticipating customer needs, it could be a sign of poor customer data.
For instance, do you often experience customers contacting you and ask you to update personal information, such as address and name? Or do customers complain because they just received an email offering them a sale on a product they bought last week at full price? Or do they complain because your website shows a wrong currency compared to the location they reside? Or have customers reported receiving three identical catalogs sent to their address?
All of those situations are unfortunate for customers' perception of your brand - and signs that you have poor data maintenance. But with proper data management workflows and automatic maintenance implemented, it can be completely avoided. And as a result, your direct marketing will be more efficient because you’ll have up-to-date customer data, including purchase history and preferences, for a better foundation for precision marketing. In addition, the GDPR requires you only to store personal data as long as its relevant for its purpose. So maybe it's time for a more proactive approach to your customer data maintenance?
Sign #4 - You rely on manual processes
Do your employees sit and manually review new contacts flowing into your database? Is copy-pasting and creation of spreadsheets standard procedure when you need customer or prospect information for a marketing campaign? Does sharing of data require a lot of back and forth emailing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need more automatic and intelligent processes around your customer data.
Having business rules and workflow automation also supports data governance efforts, minimizing the risk of bad data entering your systems. Not everyone in your organization should be able to create or edit customer accounts (if they are, that’s a bad sign too).
Sign #5 - Reporting is a hassle
If the monthly email marketing analysis or the customer report with order history require infinite amounts of resources, time and home-made excel and PowerPoint presentations, then it may be time for an upgrade. Standard reports should not take days or weeks to create – and it doesn’t if you have proper foundational data.
Sign #6 - You don’t trust your data
Do you hesitate to make big strategic decisions based on data that employees have pulled out of your systems? Do you ignore the monthly reports and instead base decisions on your instincts? If any of these are correct, then you probably don’t trust your data.
This is possibly the most significant of them all. If this is the case, then you should do something about it.