Blog_StandardizeData_01Are you delivering the optimal customer experience? As Scott Vaughan notes in one of his recent blogs, it’s a topic of utmost importance to CMOs

Delivering an award-winning customer experience requires a holistic effort that transcends marketing – it involves the entire organization. Customers need consistent, accurate and targeted communication across the entire purchasing lifecycle.

Marketing often holds a significant amount of data on every customer or prospect in the pipeline. But to consistently deliver an authentic brand experience, every customer-facing role must have access to that data – from marketing to sales to customer success teams.

And the only way to ensure data accessibility across teams is to standardize both your customer/prospect data and program performance data. This allows data to flow seamlessly between various teams’ systems and delivers an ongoing view of customer needs so that communications can be consistent and on point.

Communication – The Heart of Customer Experience

The Harvard Business Review reports that 53% of executives believe customer experience management provides a competitive advantage. 45% view customer experience management as an important strategic priority. And at the heart of any good customer experience is a well-developed communication strategy.

Customer-centric communication speaks directly to your customers about their needs. It feels authentic and genuine. When focused directly on the people you serve, you can engage, guide and convert prospects to become and remain customers.

Data – It Does Your Customers Good

As part of this well-developed communication strategy, messaging must remain consistent across all touch points. These days customer engagement often begins when a new prospects engages with your brand through some form of content that your marketing team has developed.  As they continue their interactions, you gather valuable information through form data, digital body language and the content they consume. This data, when leveraged effectively, can be used to develop ongoing personalized relationships.

But what happens when those prospects move through your pipeline and sales takes ownership of communication? Sales pros need access to:

  • Emails previously sent to those contacts
  • Engagement data resulting from those communication
  • Records of social interactions and website activity
  • Available predictive intelligence data

This is especially critical because the hand-off between marketing and sales takes place later than ever in the buying cycle. Marketing data can provides sales organizations with a fundamental understanding of the customer, so that they can execute the right follow-up communications and shorten the buying cycle.

Without marketing data, sales pros are flying blind.  As a result, they miss opportunities, or worse…fail to communicate the right message and create a poor customer experience.

Take for example a marketer who is interested in buying leads from a new vendor. The marketer has recently engaged with the pricing page on the vendor’s website. When the sales pro connects with the potential new customer, they try to sell them a content package – not what the marketer was seeking.  BOOM!  The customer experience tanks and the relationship is lost.

Standardization – Key to Data Accessibility

To make data ubiquitously available, it must be accessible by all customer data systems (marketing automation, CRM, etc.). And in order for each of these systems to process, analyze and leverage the same data, the data must be standardized and the systems integrated. Standardized data is the king pin to making the integration process possible. This means all data must be normalized in the same format, fields must have the same names and values and the same data must be pulled through all systems.

Unfortunately, most organizations are a bit far from standardizing their customer data, let alone integrating all their customer engagement systems. The good news is that achieving accessible customer data isn’t as complex as it seems.

Here are a few simple rules for structuring customer & prospect data:

  1. Standardize core selection (segmentation) fields with the same format and picklists. For example company size, industry, and job role.
  2. Maintain customer and account with a single customer unique value. These can then be used to reference detailed data. Using these fields, a customer service representatives can look up contracts, web pages visited, co-workers also engaged with the product to provide the optimal solution to a problem.
  3. Leverage a data warehouse architecture with a business intelligence (BI) solution that has been configured to your needs.
  4. Maintain a governance body that spans departments to make sure everybody remains honest

Not only will an open view of customer data optimize the customer experience, it’ll also boost customer acquisition and retention. The upward trajectory of revenue as a result of standardized data is the ROI every business is looking for. Organizations with standardized and available customer data:

  • Performed significantly better in regards to repeat business year after year
  • Ranked higher in expressed “high-levels of satisfaction” with the organization’s goods or services
  • Maintained higher sales, with a larger percentage of the sales team attaining their annual quotas

Delivering best-in-class customer experiences is imperative for competitive advantage. Accomplishing this requires accurately targeted, consistent and on-point communication. All the time. Every time. Standardized customer data is needed to facilitate the flow of information between systems. With the availability of this data each department can optimally engage customers.