one way street sign
Making information governance an integral part of your customer experiences gives your employees the guidance they need to build trust with every customer interaction PHOTO: Nick Tiemeyer

Customer experience management is generally the domain of the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the marketing department. Information governance usually falls into the domain of attorneys and records managers. It’s time these two groups got together to explore ways they can serve their organization’s mission better as a team.

It’s all about the customers. And their information. And their trust and loyalty.

Companies Are Investing in Better Customer Experience

Good customer experience is driven by a combination of customer information and digital experience technologies. Gartner predicts that CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs starting in 2017. According to the research firm, CMOs will spend the equivalent of 3.4 percent of their companies’ global on technology, and CIOs will spend another 3.4 percent.

Why are organizations investing so much in technology for customer experience? Connie Moore, an analyst at Digital Clarity Group, offered one explanation in a report titled “2017 Customer Experience Trends.” She concluded that “CEOs will double down on operational excellence in customer experience management in 2017.” She also said, “A growing number of senior executives realize that effectively managing lifetime relationships with prospects and customers can literally make or break an organization’s top-line growth and bottom-line results.”

Now that organizations have so much technology and customer information, it is critical that they take a unified approach to information strategy, architecture and governance. Let’s consider some ways information governance can help improve customer experience management.

How Information Governance Can Improve CXM

Strategy: Start With Business Objectives

Always tie information and technology efforts to real business objectives. According to a 2017 Forrester Research report titled “The Digital Business Imperative,” 89 percent of executives believe that “digital” will disrupt their businesses in the next year. The report states:

“Digital fundamentally changes your relationship with your customers. You can’t address this change with a bolt-on digital strategy that adds an app here or a site there. To remain competitive, you must re-engineer how your business creates value for your customers in the digital age.”

Consider these questions as part of your strategy formation:

  • How can you better engage with customers to build trust and loyalty?
  • What specific business outcomes are you seeking?
  • What is the overall strategy for customer information?
  • Are you segmenting? Personalizing? Providing customer service? Sales? Or some combination of these?

Architecture: Identify What Information You Need

As I said in a previous article, information architecture is much more than site maps and wireframes. Enterprise information architecture should be a central part of how organizations structure information, and it should cover how systems interconnect to meet the business objectives in the strategy.

Consider these questions as part of information architecture:

  • What specific data do you need to collect about customers, and how will you use it?
  • Where will all this data be collected, and how?
  • Which systems will you store it in?
  • In which geographic locations will you store it?

Governance: Determine How Information Is Managed

Now we get to more specifics about how information governance helps customer experience management. Consider these questions regarding governing all that data and content on customers:

  • What protections are required, and what additional ones make sense?
  • Who has access to the information? Who needs access? Do they really need access?
  • Can you audit the access and use of the information?
  • Which third parties will have access to the data? Do they own the data, or do you?
  • How long should the data be kept?
  • Are you adequately managing for privacy? Cybersecurity? Proper usage?

The EU’s pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is all the rage these days, and complying with its mandates will be important for any company that does business with any European citizens. But privacy is bigger than GDPR. According to Jessica Rich, former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, “We regard data as ‘personally identifiable,’ and thus warranting privacy protections, when it can be reasonably linked to a particular person, computer or device. In many cases, persistent identifiers such as device identifiers, MAC addresses, static IP addresses or cookies meet this test.”

There is a lot to consider when working out your customer experience information strategy, architecture and governance.

Look for Smart Ways to Connect Information in Internal Processes

Connie Moore’s Digital Clarity Group report states that, in order to achieve real digital transformation, companies must follow a strategy that includes both “outside-in” and “inside-out” thinking. The report stated, “Customer actions in the digital outside mirror employee actions in the digital inside.” In other words, your external customer interactions should be closely aligned with your internal business processes. That is where the CMO and the CIO can best work together to transform their companies. This kind of transformation takes several years, but is totally worth it.

To get a more complete view of a customer for a better experience, consider these questions:

  • How do your customers interact with your website, mobile apps, in-store systems, etc.?
  • What other information (records?) do you have about your customers?
  • Have they purchased from you? Used your services? Reviewed you online? Engaged customer support?
  • What next piece of content or product or service would be most appropriate for specific customers?

Consider your own interactions with companies as a customer — your health insurance provider, for instance. When you ask a question or submit a claim, you want the customer service rep or website bot to have all your data and communications handy so you don’t have to explain things multiple times to get what you need. You also want your doctors’ offices and pharmacy to have what they need to support you. And you want all that information protected at all costs.

Make information governance a central part of your customer experience management to help build trust and loyalty.