Blog | 5 min read

Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Deploying a Customer Data Platform: Oiling the Engine

May 18, 2021

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A Customer Data Platform (CDP) doesn’t run smoothly on tech alone — it requires a measured approach when rolling out the platform, and ongoing effort across multiple teams, along with consistent check-ins. In our previous installments, we touched on common pitfalls in the buying process and during early usage. Now, we’re diving into things to watch out for during the third part of the process: building to value.

Not thinking big about the end customer

There’s so much new information your business has access to when first standing up a CDP that it can be easy to fall victim to one of the most serious mistakes there is: losing sight of your customers.

It may seem paradoxical that implementing tech to increase the focus on customers would result in thinking less about the customers. But evolving the use of customer data to guide strategy and execution involves tech, tools, culture, and outlook. That’s a lot of change to manage — and the outsized results in customer satisfaction and economic outcomes make it all worth it — but it’s important not to let the internal focus of transforming the business obscure the end goal of serving the customer.

This frequently rears its head in the form of losing sight of the customer experience. To avoid that, align the business on a few tangible use cases you can launch with that focus on improving client service. Always keep in mind that using what you learn from customer data leads to improved business results precisely because you are serving your customers better. When working with customer data, don’t just think about how it can improve your numbers. Always keep in mind how it can improve your customer experience by aligning on some questions you want to ask of the data that line up with your customer and business strategy.

Under-valuing insights

Before deploying a CDP, it’s likely your customer data was fragmented and hard to reach. Now your company will have access to rich customer profiles, brimming with insight into their engagement history, lifetime value, promotional sensitivity, and much more. With this wealth of information at your fingertips, it’s tempting to dive into action immediately.

Tactics like holdout groups and suppression audiences are extremely effective for finding out what’s working.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rack up quick wins. But while you’re taking advantage of low-hanging fruit, it’s also important to make space for learning from the wealth of customer data you can now access and analyze with a CDP. Take some time to ponder what your company should do with this knowledge and formulate plans so that you can make the most of the data for both you and your customers.

No ongoing measurement plan

Test and measure is the name of the game. Even if your brand has already begun to see improved results from use of the platform, a larger assessment plan will give your business an amazing opportunity to learn what’s working and what’s not, and to then optimize accordingly.

Tactics like holdout groups and suppression audiences are extremely effective for finding out what’s working. Sometimes companies shy away from this because it feels like leaving an opportunity on the table, especially if they’ve invested in great creative that they want everyone to see. But by using these controlled tests, your brand can form a deeper understanding of what your customers like makes and craft even better experiences for them.

No cross-functional governance team

In our first installment, we recommended having a full range of users and stakeholders represented in the purchasing phase. This advice applies to the ongoing use of the CDP as well — without representatives from key groups contributing to the use of the platform, it’s easy to fall back into silos.

This goes beyond operations and workflows, extending into culture and outlook, as mentioned above. Having leaders from across the organization involved in steering the ongoing use of the CDP means they can continue to drive adoption and best practices in their areas of the business. Data is a team sport. With a strong cross-functional oversight group working towards a common set of goals, your company will be headed on the path to true data-driven transformation.

The takeaway: Customer is king

Now that you’re aware of what mishaps to look out for when using a CDP, you can truly embrace the transformative power of the platform’s tech. With this new driving force behind your business, you have the chance to radically upgrade the way you serve your customers, who are the life force of your brand.

In the end, everything comes back to the customer: better business results come from satisfied customers. Customer satisfaction comes from treating them as unique individuals. Personalized treatment comes from using what you know about them. What you know about them comes from them agreeing to give you their data in the first place. A CDP and a customer-centric culture supporting it are the keys to unlock all of this.

If you’d like a refresher on the earlier stages of deploying a CDP, we've touched on planning and buying and implementation and early usage.

To learn more about powering up your customer data use, get in touch.

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