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Creating a Better Customer Experience Through Centralized Information

By: Alex White

Enterprise sales and marketing departments never had it so good. Big Data has revolutionized how companies see their customers, develop an improved customer experience strategy, and open new doors for interaction. Sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) software has made it even easier to utilize properly-managed data and glean valuable insights into customer wants and needs. Life is good.

Or is it?

With consumers using social media and other myriad of new channels to research and report on companies and their experiences with them, it can be a challenge for businesses to keep up with new information, never mind manage it effectively. Likewise, manufacturers have similar challenges as growing numbers of companies embrace digital transformation and business processes increasingly move to the cloud. How to handle Big Data can be a frustrating challenge for many organizations looking for a better customer experience strategy.

The problem, in many cases, is that customer service reps don’t have adequate access to all this data. An astonishing number of account managers don’t have even the most basic information at their fingertips, such as order status, shipping, and returns data that’s often contained in ERP systems.

One of the most effective approaches to the problem is to centralize customer data to gain a 360 degree view of it. By integrating data repositories and transitioning to a single data storage system, enterprises can optimize CRM system performance. Key to this undertaking is the creation of a single customer account as the cornerstone of an effective customer experience strategy. The duplicative customer databases in today's siloed infrastructure prevent organizations from effectively using existing CRM solutions. As lines of business expand the problem compounds -- multiple same-customer interactions increase, further complicating this problem unless enterprises adopt a different approach. In addition to enabling centralized access to customer information, manufacturers must rethink their onboarding practices to encourage even greater efficiency. With a single customer account number and a unified onboarding practice, enterprises can overcome many of the issues caused by non-centralized business systems. 

The key to improving your customer experience strategy

If Big Data is creating more blockage than benefits for your company, chances are good that this is your real problem – it’s your company, looking at your data, and determining your metrics. What’s being forgotten in the process is that most fundamental tenet of good business – the customer comes first. You need to go out and talk to customers and find out what they need.

When you start talking with customers, you’ll find out what data is important to them – that’s the data that should be important to you. This insight will give you a toehold into how to organize and prioritize the data in your centralized repository. Once you start doing this, the benefits will compound rapidly. For example, as CSRs gain better access to important data, centralized information will tell them not only when a customer ordered a specific product, but where. This helps avoid losing credibility when a sales rep goes into a customer for a reorder only to find out from the customer that they already reordered online.

The trick is to build a more effective centralized information system by fixing one small slice of data at a time. Start with the order status information we just discussed. Then add, say, shipping information, followed by returns. Figure out the best way to get all this information into the hands of your sales reps. This builds a more efficient CRM system and provides a more complete image of your customer relationship using easily-accessed, centralized information, resulting in a better customer experience.

The key is to not get overwhelmed by Big Data. Talk to your customers and begin mining all that centralized information for the most important nuggets that can make a difference right away in your customer experience strategy. Don’t try to fix everything all at once. Just make one thing right, one day at a time. All those tiny slices of data that get optimized over time add up to one, big, happy customer experience.