To know more about their customers, organizations need to import relevant information about them through various touchpoints.
Automation of data pipelines can help businesses more efficiently serve customer needs by bringing meaningful levels of information into the enterprise. Automating customer data imports also lets teams offload tedious, time-consuming tasks like input and segmentation, at unparalleled speed and at scale.
With automation, companies can exercise a greater degree of control and governance over who can access and import data, and what data they can import, reducing the risk of data loss.
“By having a consistent, repeatable automation, you not only gain the ability to iteratively reduce data quality errors over time but enable the ability to scale your campaigns while reducing the potential for duplication in your data sets,” said Jason Teller, senior director of product management for process automation at Salesforce.
Teller explained for any automation project, you’ll likely need to automate processes and unify data from across your organization, which can require stakeholder coordination across multiple teams like marketing, sales, service and others.
“To realize the full benefits of automation, you will need early buy-in from IT, and approaching them with their top of mind will help you gain their trust,” he added. “IT will be key in helping you achieve your desired business outcomes by ensuring governance, security and scale across all users, teams and systems.”
From Teller’s perspective, making sure stakeholders are aligned on the desired business outcomes and remain in lockstep with IT will help streamline time to value and ultimately deliver better results.
Related Article: Customer Experience Automation and the Human Touch
Automation Reduces Latency but Requires Clear Objectives
In addition, the latency between the time a customer service incident occurs and the time an agent resolves the issue can be significantly reduced through automation.
“We live in a connected world,” Freshworks CIO Prasad Ramakrishnan said. “Customers expect the company they call upon for support to know everything about them – what they use or don’t use, why they do or don’t use them, when and how they use them.”
The road to automation and customer data starts with articulating the clear purpose and vision of why you need the data.
Ramakrishnan said knowing the problem statement and the support objectives enables the relevant technology teams to put their creative juices to work to design a solution that meets those goals.
“Be cognizant of the privacy and regulatory requirements when dealing with customer data,” he added. “The type of data that is being imported should in no way compromise the privacy posture of either you or your customer.”
That includes getting explicit consent from the customer before ingesting their data, as it is perceived as their “crown jewels”, and great care needs to be taken in dealing with it.
Scalability, Connectivity Essential to Data Import Strategy
Tony Newcome, ActiveCampaign CTO, recommended solutions that offer the ability to connect key applications, provide native ability to broadcast events occurring in the CRM via technologies like webhooks and already offer integration to several iPaaS platforms.
“Your system needs an ability to bring data into your customer profiles in near real-time across any of your tools,” he said. “This is the heart of CXA and becoming mandatory to keep up with the pace of business in the digital era.”
He said the system needs the ability to act at scale on data as it arrives.
“It's no longer enough to just see your customer's profile in one place,” he explained. “To truly deliver an ideal customer experience at scale, your team members need the ability to easily find customers in the CRM and take action on them.”
Those actions could include sending templated emails, creating follow-up tasks or even pushing them into sequences easily for personalized automated nurture campaigns blended with human follow-up.
“You must take the time to document each piece of data you are bringing together, being sure to describe what it means, where it comes from and how it is to be interpreted,” he said. “As your business grows, as new employees come into the business and as you scale up and add new departments — this will be crucial to your uninterrupted success."
Related Article: Creating an Agile Customer Data Strategy
Good Data Governance, Chain of Custody Key Factors to Consider
Ramakrishnan added there is a tendency to over-ingest information, and you will see a manifestation of the popular adage “garbage in garbage out.” Ingest only what is required to meet the business's needs and requirements.
“Ensure that you have explicit rules around chain of custody, to ensure that the data is protected at rest, at the time of transport and the roles and people who are responsible for accessing the data are the right ones,” he said.
Newcome added customer support teams are often the only interaction point many of your customers will have with your company, which means it’s critical they have the full understanding of that customer's journey with your business.
“They need to quickly understand if this is a first-time client or someone who's been a customer since 1995,” he said. “Having near real-time access to a complete profile of your customers allows your support teams to deliver exceptional quality support interactions that are truly personalized to each of your client's unique experiences with your company."
Automation Can Free up Engineering Teams
Teller noted with automation that, in addition to giving businesses an accurate 360-degree view of each customer, it opens up employees’ time to focus on more important tasks that require a human touch, like deepening customer relationships and solving complex business challenges.
Ramakrishnan noted engineering teams can learn a lot from looking at customer data, pointing out that some of the most successful product organizations are the ones where engineers have spent time understanding how their customers use the application.
“Data is the outcome of our customers using our application,” he said. “Knowing how this application is being used, and how data is being stored and modeled within the application, will enable engineers to refine the product to meet customer needs.”
Newcome pointed out that while data engineers can deliver a lot of value to the organization, building custom data flows between each of your tools is not the best use of their time.
Implementing a customer experience automation solution frees up data engineers to work with data science, finance or business operations teams, or perhaps work with a BI function to offer insights into what is happening across the customer experience.
“Automating the foundation of data integration frees your team up to operate more strategically," Newcome said.