A new survey report by WBR Insights reveals that companies using unified data throughout their operations are much more likely to use that data to improve the customer experience. Roughly half of the companies surveyed said they manage their data in a centralized manner, with 72% of those with unified data operations reporting they’re satisfied with their ability to use data for better customer experiences.
But for those who don’t adopt a unified data operations strategy, only 64% say they’re happy with their ability to leverage their customer data to improve customer experience.
Which Data Management Strategies Work Best?
In addition to examining the link between unified data operations and better CX, the report also examined different types of data management and data management strategies. Besides a unified data management plan, companies applied lessons learned in 2021 to improve how they collect, manage, and use customer data. Some of these strategies were:
- Data collection at the source
- Deploying new digital solutions to manage data
- Prioritizing specific data types (or the most useful data)
- Democratizing data across the organization
Democratizing data makes customer information available to everyone in the company, regardless of technical skills.
Great Customer Experience Requires Unified Data Operations
Although companies can leverage unified customer data to support many departments and functions, one of the most valuable strategies where data can play a critical role is the customer experience.
Using AI and machine learning to collect the right customer data and bring it together in a single customer view (SCV) builds a full understanding of each customer journey. And it’s that understanding that empowers a company to tailor experiences based on context and need. Customizing experiences in this way is even more critical as consumer habits continue to change due to the pandemic.
Beyond Unified Data: Operational Changes Required
But great customer experience requires more than unified data. Operational changes are also necessary. When asked how companies were planning to transform the customer experience in 2022, the top two responses (59%) were leveraging retail stores as edge warehouses and fulfillment centers, and clearly communicating privacy and data governance practices.
These were the top two responses for surveyed companies, regardless of whether they have a centralized data strategy or not, proving that customer service and data privacy are top of mind across the board.
Unified Customer Data and Personalized Customer Experience Initiatives Planned for 2022
One of the most popular ways to leverage customer data is to influence product offerings across channels by matching consumers’ interests and values to specific products. And this is a top initiative for all respondents in the survey (62% for companies with decentralized data operations and 64% for centralized data operationalizations). But other initiatives benefit from customer data as well, including loyalty programs for customer retention and improving marketing performance.
Unifying Data and Customer Experiences Across Channels Is Top Priority for Those Who Can
When asked about data strategies for 2022, companies with centralized data operations said that unifying data from more sources, including all digital channels, contact centers, and product pages, was the priority.
For companies with decentralized data, this strategy ranked last on their list at 14%, likely because they are overwhelmed with the amount of data they need to deal with and have chosen to focus their efforts on a smaller subset of the data they consider most important. This group’s top 2022 data strategy is connecting customer data with operational data. Doing this will help improve the accuracy and efficiency of demand forecasting, inventory visibility, and supply chain planning.
Companies with unified data operations have clearly decided that achieving the unified customer experience initiatives they’ve planned for 2022 requires collecting and using the right customer data. And there are many different types of data that companies could access, but might not be using right now. When asked which data types they are prioritizing for 2022, clienteling data was the top response at 58%, followed by location data (38%) and point of sale (POS) data (38%). Loyalty and sentiment data were the top two types that companies have no plans to focus on this year.
A Customer Data Platform Helps Deliver Better Customer Experiences
Although companies with decentralized data can provide a good customer experience, those with centralized data have the potential to deliver even better customer experiences across the board because they have access to a single customer view.
Centralizing data requires the right technology, such as a customer data platform (CDP). In this study, 44% already have a CDP in place, and another 40% plan on investing in one this year.
Many planning to purchase a CDP are looking for a marketing suite with CDP features (43%) or a standalone platform (40%). Those considering a marketing suite may be focused on unifying data for marketing programs, whereas those considering a standalone CDP have a greater opportunity to leverage unified data for more than just marketing.
Regardless of the type of customer data platform in use or planned, the majority of respondents plan to use their CDP to deliver better in-person or call center experiences (57%), report on campaign performance (42%), and extract advanced customer data attributes (40%), among other activities.
Creating a Single Customer View
Respondents were asked to describe how they plan to deliver better customer experiences in 2022 – experiences that are tailored to the channel, the customer’s context, or some other factor. Most agreed that creating a single view of the customer (or a 360-degree view) was vital.
Building a unified data environment is critical to getting this single view and providing the right experience, at the right time, in the right context.
To learn more about this study and the relationship between unified data operations and better CX in 2022, read the report, “Unified Data Operations and the Customer Experience in 2022.”