Blog | 4 min read

Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Deploying a Customer Data Platform: Growing Pains

May 12, 2021

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With the right Customer Data Platform (CDP) in place, your company is poised to flourish. A strong data infrastructure hand-delivers the most relevant information about your customers, in turn allowing your company to deliver them the best experience possible.

So now that you’ve got your tech set up, what happens next? Welcome to part two of our three-part series on pitfalls to watch out for when deploying a CDP. In our first installment, we covered the planning and buying phase of deploying a CDP.

Now, we cover the next stage where obstacles can crop up: implementation and early use.

Doesn’t work with your existing (and future) tools

Flexibility is at the core of a strong CDP. A CDP is not a bomb that enters a business and blitzes away all remnants of the past — it’s intended to be part of the transformation of the business. If a CDP interrupts your operations and derails existing processes instead of working with what you already have running to help the company evolve, it’s probably not the best fit.

A CDP must be able plug seamlessly into your infrastructure, as it stands today, while being malleable enough to adapt as your business evolves.

In addition to playing nicely with your existing tech, a CDP has to work with future investments as well. One of the main reasons data platforms don’t function successfully is an inability to grow and adapt. A CDP must be able plug seamlessly into your infrastructure, as it stands today, while being malleable enough to adapt as your business evolves. Failure to do this will result in the CDP becoming yet another silo in your workplace — and who wants that?

A big bang instead of phased and agile

CDPs are often marketed as magic silver bullets that solve all a company’s problems overnight. But real transformational impact takes time. There are ways to get short term value and ways to see even greater long-term value, but it’s a mistake to try to make it happen all at once.

It’s tempting to immediately roll out new tech bought to improve your company, but for a CDP to take root successfully, brands should refrain from socializing it too fast. An incubation period with concentration among core users is a great way to start. Going too fast and furious risks alienating employees who haven’t had time to adapt to the tech. Instead, slowly releasing the technology gives the initiative legs and begins building interest and trust among employees as it becomes more widely used in the company.

The crawl-walk-run approach to implementing a CDP is not only to adapt to using the platform but also to build support among the employees expected to trust new capabilities on the promise of better results.

Ignoring quick wins

The goal of using a CDP is to reorient your strategy around customer behavior and be able to deliver personalized experiences so that customers love giving you their business. Focusing on these lofty aims sometimes causes brands to miss out on the low-hanging fruit of quick wins. There are plenty of small victories that build momentum and should not be overlooked — things like increases in email open rates on a campaign, or boosts in revenue from a welcome series after a customer’s first transaction.

Although these quick wins are just a step on the path toward full personalization, their effects are far-reaching. A quick win is a vital form of reassurance: boosting the confidence of leaders in their decision to implement a CDP, and building employees’ belief in the investment. When brands emphasize the quick wins, the CDP begins to establish credibility and demonstrate its value to employees.

The takeaway: Play the long game, one step at a time

While CDPs can certainly make magic happen, that doesn’t just transpire out of thin air: it requires effort from the whole company.

As the old adage goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. When releasing a CDP, businesses should prepare a phased strategy that carefully rolls out the platform. Select a few employees from your company to be the core users and prepare resources like workshops and cheat sheets to introduce the CDP to the rest of the company.

Lastly, companies should make a habit of communicating CDP quick wins, even if they seem small. These early victories will go a long way in building employees' confidence in the new technology they’re learning.

Don’t miss out on the third and final installment of our trilogy when we dissect the pitfalls around building to value.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about powering up your customer data use, get in touch.

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