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PHOTO: hamza tighza

The unprecedented global shift to remote work has left organizations in one of two camps: those who are comfortably adjusting to the change and those who are struggling. The difference between the two isn’t simply a matter of having the right web conferencing tool, internal chat system, or comfy office chair (although those things certainly help). The organizations that fall in the former camp have made investments in the right processes and data infrastructure to optimize their business operations and ensure their employees are able to carry on with their work without major interruption.

As the oft-proclaimed “lifeblood” of any business, your company’s customer data is the asset that nearly every department in your organization touches. In today’s predominantly remote work environment, democratizing customer data access with the help of a customer data platform is more important than ever to support business continuity.

In this article, we’ll discuss four ways a CDP can help sustain your business in the short term as well as create a solid foundation for growth in the long-term. Furthermore, we’ll share some tactical takeaways from real businesses who are enabling their own growth and scalability with a CDP.

Enable Self-Sufficient Teams

When members within a team are physically apart from one another, getting help from your fellow teammates can be a frustrating and slow process, even in the most collaborative organizations. For teams with highly specialized roles and access to different tools and systems, these issues can be exacerbated when individuals are geographically spread out. Relying on specific teams or people to complete seemingly “quick” tasks like pulling a report or building a segment can take hours, days or even weeks longer than expected.

Tactical takeaway: Implementing a CDP as the central repository for customer data is the first step in making your team more self-sufficient and independent in the long run. However, it’s common for team leads to want to limit the number of people using certain tools for simplicity’s sake. If this is the case in your organization, your CDP administrator can connect to a workflow tool like Workato or Zapier to set up weekly automated data deliveries in a CSV file so that the rest of the team can get what they need. When team members can easily access the data they need in an unobtrusive way, campaigns and other programs can get out the door as quickly as smoothly as possible.

Related Article: Beyond CDP or Bust: The Looming CDP Reality

Support Customer Retention and Spark Upsell Opportunities

In critical times like these, top of funnel growth may be out of your control. Your own marketing budget to gain new customers may have been cut, your prospects may have put a pause on future purchases, and your total addressable market may have shifted or shrunken entirely. Now is the time to put even more focus on your existing customers. In pre-COVID times, this perhaps translated to maintaining a 24- or 48-hour SLA on responding to customer support tickets, but healthy, growing organizations strive to be proactive instead of reactive.

Proactivity can be enabled by a CDP by sending signals to account executives and customer success teams when a good upsell opportunity comes along, or when a customer is at risk of churning.

Tactical takeaway: Send real-time alerts to account executives and customer success teams when your customers take (or stop taking) certain actions so they can respond appropriately. This starts by linking product usage data from a tool like Mixpanel or Amplitude to your CDP. Then, use your CDP to send alerts through Slack or email when important upsell milestones like "Customer is approaching plan limits" are hit. Conversely, set alerts for concerning metrics like "Customer has not logged in in the past 7 days."

Related Article: Developing CDP Use Cases: A Guide for Marketers

Promote Organizational Alignment

Most marketers have either lived through or at least understand the challenges of the dreaded data silo. When different teams, for example, sales and marketing, use different tools, and those tools don’t talk to one another, they create data silos that amplify internal team tension and potentially result in missed opportunities or lost revenue. The classic example of sales and marketing misalignment often involves an ill-timed marketing email to a lead already in a sales cycle.

When teams are no longer under the same roof, it may take days to notice any data discrepancies between tools, which can create a snowball effect of consequences down the line. When teams work from the same customer record, these issues of misalignment can be eliminated or minimized.

Tactical takeaway: Get your teams on the same page and prevent any cringe-worthy moments by getting your data synced up. Start by building comprehensive marketing email exclusion lists in your CDP to ensure your communications are only sent to the right people. This means syncing your CDP up to all the tools that may contain prospect or customer activity — like your CRM and chat system — and making sure any prospects in an existing sales cycle have been excluded from your marketing programs.

Related Article: Is That New CDP Truly a Customer Data Platform?

Make the Most of Your Existing Lead Funnel

Marketing teams that have seen their budget cut for top-of-funnel programs like trade shows and events have an opportunity to turn their focus towards nurturing existing leads and prospects in the funnel. By centralizing customer data from various systems like a CRM, marketing automation platform, data warehouse, mobile app, website and more, a CDP can enable marketing teams to build and refine their segments to launch incredibly personalized campaigns. With more refined segmentation using data they already have, marketers can garner more conversions that turn into opportunities and revenue without having to spend a single dollar on new leads.

Tactical takeaway: Linking your data enrichment vendor, like Clearbit, to your CDP can open doors for hyper-personalization and lookalike targeting in your email campaigns. Data enrichment solutions often contain a treasure trove of valuable company and person-level details that can be used to further refine your messaging so you can finally go beyond “Hello {{first_name}}” in your personalization efforts.

Now Is the Time to Centralize Your Customer Data

Centralizing customer data has numerous benefits for organizations, regardless of whether or not a global pandemic is in our midst. But in a time of crisis, these value propositions become more of a necessity than a nice to have. When your organization has begun to lay down a solid data foundation, you can then start realizing benefits like cost-effective growth and internal operational efficiencies that will set you up for success long past the end of this pandemic.