Customer Data Integration (CDI) – for a Single View of Your Customer

April 20, 2011
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Moneydog3 How profitable are your customers? What have they purchased lately? Are there opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell to them? You and everyone else in your organization want to know everything possible about your customers.

Moneydog3 How profitable are your customers? What have they purchased lately? Are there opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell to them? You and everyone else in your organization want to know everything possible about your customers. You want a single view of the customer that everyone across the enterprise can use.

There’s nothing new about this. Businesses have been trying to get a single view of their customers and prospects for years.

With the goal of a single view in mind, software vendors initially developed customer oriented applications such as call center, campaign management and sales force automation (SFA) applications. Later, these vendors attempted to merge all customer-centric applications under the customer relationship management (CRM) umbrella.

The big idea was that the CRM software would provide a single view of the customer.  It didn’t quite turn out that way, however. Businesses bought these applications from various vendors but also custom-built their own applications, resulting in scattered customer data across many application silos. The result: many views of the customer.

Nowadays the new application that people hope will straighten out their customer data is customer data integration. Customer data integration combines the technology, processes and services you need to create and maintain customer information from all available sources, including contact details, customer valuation data, and information gathered through interactions such as direct marketing.

There’s no question that there’s s a huge benefit to integrating and managing a business’ customer data. After all, most businesses sell either products or services to customers. These customers can be businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C).

Typically, a business will use campaign management and SFA software to identify prospects and acquire customers. Then it will use call center software to enable excellent support to retain these customers. But it doesn’t stop there. The business also wants to know what its customers have bought from them and then try to up-sell and cross-sell additional products or services.

It is clear that data is both the key inhibitor and enabler to accomplish this.

Without integrated and well managed customer data, businesses will either not be able to target appropriate customers or will spend too much money in doing so. The most effective customer acquisition, retention and up-sell campaigns are enabled by well integrated and managed customer data.

The large investments in these customer-centric applications over the years bears witness to the significant business benefits that a single view of the customer can deliver to an enterprise.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, in which I discuss separating the hype from the reality of customer data integration.