woman by a carousel in sunlight
Disparate customer data is a customer experience killer. PHOTO: Adrianna Calvo

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

These words attributed to Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker are enough to explain the importance of the data explosion. Because data is available at all customer touch points, businesses can measure results and translate the knowledge into improved decision making and performance.

Digital Meets Retail

Consider retailing. Retailers with physical stores could always track which merchandise sold and which did not.

If they had a loyalty program, they could tie some of those purchases to individual customers. And that was about it.

Then came online retailers and the understanding of customers increased dramatically.

Online retailers could track not only what customers bought, but also what else they browsed; how they navigated through the site; how much they were influenced by promotions, reviews, and page layouts. Soon there were models to predict what customers would like to buy next, and these models got better every time the customer responded to or ignored the recommendation.

This is just one example of how customer data has shown tremendous potential to transform businesses.

A Convoluted Customer Journey

Let consider a typical experience of a shopper in today’s digital world.

customer journey

Notice that the purchase paths today are no longer simple and linear. They are convoluted and can be influenced by many factors.

A deep understanding of your customer that comes from analyzing unstructured data and browsing behavior, along with demographics and purchase history can allow retailers and CPG manufacturers to influence these paths for favorable outcomes.

Using the same example let’s look at some of the potential interventions.

customer journey today

The interventions above are effective only when they are relevant and in time. This requires a comprehensive view of your customer that is updated near real time as the customer interacts with your organization.

The data available from all the touchpoints and channels are often either unstructured or unwieldy, but there’s a huge amount of signal in the noise, simply waiting to be released.  

Disparate customer data is actually a customer experience killer.

Without a timely and comprehensive view of the customer, businesses are unable to tailor relevant offers, resolve issues quickly and optimize customers’ experience across channels and throughout the customer life cycle.

Creating this comprehensive view of customer should be a seamless, integrated and largely automated process and not an ad-hoc exercise. Then only will be the businesses be able to unleash the true power of customer data.