According to new research, a third of companies are in the process of deploying a customer data platform. (1) This comes at a time when marketers are trying to retain their current customers and engage with potential ones, all under the shadow of a global pandemic, where consumer buying patterns have experienced unprecedented shifts.
Reacting to changing consumer spending patterns isn't the only challenge marketers face. Consumers interact with brands through different touchpoints across multiple devices. Being able to attribute interactions to specific customers is challenging, especially when that customer data is spread over a wide range of sources. Even so, customers expect a streamlined experience across all touchpoints. This leads to the need for a customer data platform (CDP), to aggregate and unify customer data, which leads to actionable insights, to provide the seamless experience customers expect.
While CDP use cases start from aggregating data from disparate systems and using that data to create more targeted marketing campaigns, the possibilities don’t end there. And companies are starting to take notice, exploring more strategic uses for their customer data.
CDP Use Cases Beyond Marketing
Demand Sensing and Inventory Visibility
Every department and line of business needs data. While CDPs started out as a marketing technology, for the ones able to handle immense amounts of data and to ingest and activate customer data in real time, CDPs can be used for so much more. The opportunities for sales, operations and other departments are nearly endless. As CDPs provide greater value to other departments, they transition from surrogate platforms to mission-critical platforms, enabling digital transformation for the whole organization.
One such use case is inventory management. “With so much purchasing happening on mobile apps and websites, using real-time customer data as signals for real-time demand sensing and inventory visibility becomes essential,” says Thomas Kurian, director of industry solutions for Treasure Data. “Millions of dollars are lost when there’s a disconnect between what the customer wants, what the retailer has and where in the supply chain that inventory is at. This can negatively affect the retailer in two ways: if the retailer has the product but it isn’t seen by the customer, or if the customer wants a certain product and the retailer doesn’t have it in their inventory. Getting visibility into inventories requires the right data insight.”
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Curbside pickup is growing in popularity as customers adopt mobile app purchasing and curbside delivery for their journeys. While curbside pickup has been around since at least 2014, its ability to minimize contact between customers and associates has been a hit with customers during the pandemic. In a recent survey, 31% of customers who used curbside pickup services did it for the very first time between March and June 2020. (2)
In this environment, associates need customer data to engage with the customer efficiently during the delivery process. “Reducing wait times around curbside pickup is very important as this option gains popularity with customers,” Kurian says. When the store’s task management system is integrated with a CDP, such customer data can be made available to store associates in a familiar interface.
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Although some businesses are starting to cautiously reopen, this varies wildly by region and retailer. Many are only taking customers by appointment or otherwise limiting capacity. For this reason, empowering retail associates — either in stores or as virtual associates on the retailer’s website or mobile app — with holistic customer data is essential for 1:1 personalization. Call centers reps also need real-time customer data. “Your employees all need to be ready to interact with the customer where they’re more apt to engage, whether that’s through a mobile app or in stores,” Kurian says.
One such use case is services offered by personal stylists in the apparel industry. “Apparel retailers that have styling services available in their apps certainly need real-time customer data,” Kurian says. “The stylists interacting with customers need access to customer data — measurements, preferences, buying history and so forth. Those interactions fail without access to real-time customer data.”
The amount of data companies collect on their current and potential customers is staggering; however, without the ability to act on all that data prevents companies from leveraging what may be their most valued possession. A well-architected CDP is a proven, effective way to unify customer data and gain actionable insights. These insights can then be disseminated throughout the organization so marketers can personalize information to customers, call center reps have knowledge about the customer from the first interaction and curbside pickups happen effectively.
The data insights derived from a CDP need to be leveraged by all business functions within a company (from marketing to product development), so the whole organization becomes customer-centric and data driven. CDPs can take whatever data is present and use it to generate insights for marketing, operations, sales and many more. Sure, your marketing teams need audience-level interfaces, but your customer service teams also need the customer-level view and your data scientists need modeling interfaces for creating their own models, all of whom can support the business strategy. The information contained with a CDP goes beyond marketing and should be used by other lines of business to ensure customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty.
Learn how Treasure Data’s CDP capabilities can provide expert strategic insights at treasuredata.com.
- Bloom, B. and Foo Kune, L. (2020). Market Guide for Customer Data Platforms. Gartner
- Winter, D. (2020). 5 Pandemic Buying Habits That Are Here to Stay. Shopify