Customer Data Unification

Why You Need Help from the Experts to Get the Most From Your Customer Data

Customer data is one of your most valuable yet unruly assets. It’s difficult to bring together, difficult to unify, and difficult to use at scale. Even so, you need to manage it well in order to to fuel the types of personalization that consumers increasingly demand.

The Do-or-Die Nature of Using Your Customer Data Well

Boston Consulting Group predicts that over the next five year there will be an $800B shift in revenue to the 15% of brands that can “get personalization right”. Brands that don’t can expect to hemorrhage market share, with 41% of consumers switching brands last year due to lack of personalization, according to Accenture.

Effective personalization depends entirely on having complete and usable customer data. Examples of where this is missing are all around us. Steve Dennis, reporting for Forbes, shared some of his favorite examples of personalization failure: “A certain airline regularly sent my teenage daughters offers ‘specially selected’ for them which included deals for mortgage financing. We were nicely generous with their allowances, but not enough for any real estate speculation.” Another brand encouraged him to redeem his loyalty rewards points. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any. In yet another example, a well known bank recommended he get their credit card ‒ a credit card he already had. 

Each of these brands has the data they need to fix all of these errors. So what’s the problem?

Customer Data’s Unique Challenges

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that many retailers are failing at personalization because, according to Brendan Witcher, a principal analyst at Forrester, “most retailers haven’t done the unsexy work of understanding how to use the data.”

But is it really for lack of trying? In our experience, brands are trying to manage their customer data by repurposing tools, teams, and platforms that were designed for other goals. But customer data poses a unique set of challenges that require deep specialization to overcome.

Bringing customer data together is actually a ton of work

Customer data exists in many disconnected systems across your organization. None of these systems easily integrates with one another. Just to get the data into one, centralized system requires extensive schema planning, ETL coding or other data transformations, and the building, maintaining, and 24/7 monitoring of a series of data pipes. Most brands lack the bandwidth to do this well and maintain this over time, especially as data sources change over time.

Issues with scale and speed

Some customer data sources, such as clickstream, contain trillions of entries. The data pipes most brands build can’t handle ingestion at this volume and will slow to a crawl, eliminating the possibility of using data in a timely manner.

Identity resolution is hard

Customer data doesn’t neatly fit. Point-of-sale data doesn’t match up with eCommerce data or loyalty data or clickstream data. Resolving identities and building customer profiles requires expertise and specialized software for customer data matching.

There are four primary reasons for this:

  1. Issues with unique identifiers
  2. Lack of ground-truth
  3. Computational complexity for big tables
  4. Balancing the probability of correct and incorrect matches with uncertain cata

We explore these challenges in detail in another blog post called: What Makes Customer Identity Resolution for Marketing so Hard

Lack of direct access for marketers

Most brands don’t specialize in whipping up intuitive user interfaces for marketers, analysts, and customer service reps to easily take action on their data. And without such a UI, fueled by complete, unified customer data, brands will continue to fail at personalization.

Disconnected customer touchpoints

All the same challenges associated with bringing data into a centralized system apply here as well. Data transformations and data pipes are required for each external system that requires customer data.

When it’s Time to Turn to the Experts

Would you go to a general practitioner for knee surgery? Or worse, would you tape up an injured knee yourself and hobble through life? No. You’d go to an orthopedic surgeon.

We have spoken with hundreds of brands and virtually none of them has been able to comprehensively solve for all of the challenges above. Some have invested millions of dollars trying to do so, but have failed because they lack both a specialized platform and a team that’s singularly, enthusiastically dedicated to the continued success of the project.

Customer Data Platforms specialize in solving for all the typical challenges brands face when trying to build their customer data foundation. Savvy brands are focusing their internal resources on core competencies like branding, products, and customer experience, and using Customer Data Platforms to maximize, accelerate, and optimize their ability to use customer data.

To learn more about this specialized platform and how it’s helping brands to finally unlock their customer data, read The Definitive Guide to Customer Data Platforms.

To get a demo of Amperity’s Intelligent Customer Data Platform, write to us at: contact@amperity.com

 

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