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Don’t Rely on CRM as Your Single Source of Trusted Customer Data

Step 1: Determine if you have a customer data problem

A statement I often hear from marketing and sales leaders unfamiliar with the concept of mastering customer data is, “My CRM application is our single source of trusted customer data.” They use CRM to onboard new customers, collecting addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. They append a DUNS number. So it’s no surprise they may expect they can master their customer data in CRM. (To learn more about the basics of managing trusted customer data, read this: How much does bad data cost your business?)

It may seem logical to expect your CRM investment to be your customer master – especially since so many CRM vendors promise a “360 degree view of your customer.” But you should only consider your CRM system as the source of truth for trusted customer data if:

Shopper
For most large enterprises, CRM never delivered on that promise of a trusted 360-degree customer view.

 ·  You have only a single instance of Salesforce.com, Siebel CRM, or other CRM

·  You have only one sales organization (vs. distributed across regions and LOBs)

·  Your CRM manages all customer-focused processes and interactions (marketing, service, support, order management, self-service, etc)

·  The master customer data in your CRM is clean, complete, fresh, and free of duplicates


Unfortunately most mid-to-large companies cannot claim such simple operations. For most large enterprises, CRM never delivered on that promise of a trusted 360-degree customer view. That’s what prompted Gartner analysts Bill O’Kane and Kimbery Collins to write this report,
 MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, in February 2014.

“The reality is that the vast majority of the Fortune 2000 companies we talk to are complex,” says Christopher Dwight, who leads a team of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) sales specialists for Informatica. Christopher and team spend each day working with retailers, distributors and CPG companies to help them get more value from their customer, product and supplier data. “Business-critical customer data doesn’t live in one place. There’s no clear and simple source. Functional organizations, processes, and systems landscapes are much more complicated. Typically they have multiple selling organizations across business units or regions.”

As an example, listed below are typical functional organizations, and common customer master data-dependent applications they rely upon, to support the lead-to-cash process within a typical enterprise:

·  Marketing: marketing automation, campaign management and customer analytics systems.
·  Ecommerce: e-commerce storefront and commerce applications.
·  Sales: sales force automation, quote management,
·  Fulfillment: ERP, shipping and logistics systems.
·  Finance: order management and billing systems.
·  Customer Service: CRM, IVR and case management systems.

The fragmentation of critical customer data across multiple organizations and applications is further exacerbated by the explosive adoption of Cloud applications such as Salesforce.com and Marketo. Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is common among many larger organizations where additional legacy customer applications must be onboarded and reconciled. Suddenly your customer data challenge grows exponentially.  

Step 2: Measure how customer data fragmentation impacts your business

Ask yourself: if your customer data is inaccurate, inconstant and disconnected can you:

Customer data is fragmented across multiple applications used by business units, product lines, functions and regions.

Customer data is fragmented across multiple applications used by business units, product lines, functions and regions.

·  See the full picture of a customer’s relationship with the business across business units, product lines, channels and regions?  

·  Better understand and segment customers for personalized offers, improving lead conversion rates and boosting cross-sell and up-sell success?

·  Deliver an exceptional, differentiated customer experience?

·  Leverage rich sources of 3rd party data as well as big data such as social, mobile, sensors, etc.., to enrich customer insights?

“One company I recently spoke with was having a hard time creating a single consolidated invoice for each customer that included all the services purchased across business units,” says Dwight. “When they investigated, they were shocked to find that 80% of their consolidated invoices contained errors! The root cause was innaccurate, inconsistent and inconsistent customer data. This was a serious business problem costing the company a lot of money.”

Let’s do a quick test right now. Are any of these companies your customers: GE, Coke, Exxon, AT&T or HP? Do you know the legal company names for any of these organizations? Most people don’t. I’m willing to bet there are at least a handful of variations of these company names such as Coke, Coca-Cola, The Coca Cola Company, etc in your CRM application. Chances are there are dozens of variations in the numerous applications where business-critical customer data lives and these customer profiles are tied to transactions. That’s hard to clean up. You can’t just merge records because you need to maintain the transaction history and audit history. So you can’t clean up the customer data in this system and merge the duplicates.

The same holds true for B2C customers. In fact, I’m a nightmare for a large marketing organization. I get multiple offers and statements addressed to different versions of my name: Jakki Geiger, Jacqueline Geiger, Jackie Geiger and J. Geiger. But my personal favorite is when I get an offer from a company I do business with addressed to “Resident”. Why don’t they know I live here? They certainly know where to find me when they bill me!

Step 3: Transform how you view, manage and share customer data

Why do so many businesses that try to master customer data in CRM fail? Let’s be frank. CRM systems such as Salesforce.com and Siebel CRM were purpose built to support a specific set of business processes, and for the most part they do a great job. But they were never built with a focus on mastering customer data for the business beyond the scope of their own processes.

But perhaps you disagree with everything discussed so far. Or you’re a risk-taker and want to take on the challenge of bringing all master customer data that exists across the business into your CRM app. Be warned, you’ll likely encounter four major problems:

1) Your master customer data in each system has a different data model with different standards and requirements for capture and maintenance. Good luck reconciling them!

2) To be successful, your customer data must be clean and consistent across all your systems, which is rarely the case.

3) Even if you use DUNS numbers, some systems use the global DUNS number; others use a regional DUNS number. Some manage customer data at the legal entity level, others at the site level. How do you connect those?

4) If there are duplicate customer profiles in CRM tied to transactions, you can’t just merge the profiles because you need to maintain the transactional integrity and audit history. In this case, you’re dead on arrival.

There is a better way! Customer-centric, data-driven companies recognize these obstacles and they don’t rely on CRM as the single source of trusted customer data. Instead, they are transforming how they view, manage and share master customer data across the critical applications their businesses rely upon. They embrace master data management (MDM) best practices and technologies to reconcile, merge, share and govern business-critical customer data. 

More and more B2B and B2C companies are investing in MDM capabilities to manage customer households and multiple views of customer account hierarchies (e.g. a legal view can be shared with finance, a sales territory view can be shared with sales, or an industry view can be shared with a business unit).

 

Gartner Report, MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, Bill O'Kane & Kimberly Collins, February 7 2014.

Gartner Report, MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, Bill O’Kane & Kimberly Collins, February 7 2014.

According to Gartner analysts Bill O’Kane and Kimberly Collins, “Through 2017, CRM leaders who avoid MDM will derive erroneous results that annoy customers, resulting in a 25% reduction in potential revenue gains,” according to this Gartner report, MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization, February 2014.

Are you ready to reassess your assumptions about mastering customer data in CRM?

Get the Gartner report now: MDM is Critical to CRM Optimization.

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