Implementing customer data integration is a challenge in India because the broader discipline of business intelligence (BI) itself is a toddler here. The biggest problem with regard to the deployment of customer data integration is the lack of data standardization. By crossing these hurdles, one at a time, organizations can make customer data integration a data savior. Let’s explore how and why.
Differentiating the customers
Customer data integration helps in accurately identifying every customer. Take an example from the BFSI sector. The most accurate data that consumers in this sector part with is when they apply for home loans. Acquiring such complete and pure data is a challenge in any other business process, so it's advisable for organizations to capture as much data as possible through customer relationship management(CRM). One important field in this is the email ID. The customer may provide this information at the time of applying for the loan, but it's possible that soon after taking the loan the customer stops using this email ID. It therefore becomes imperative for a customer service executive of the organization to verify the email ID before discussing other matters during his next interaction with the customer.
The same applies to other customer details. Data needs to be updated constantly. Based on these updates in the customer data integration, a particular customer may be identified clearly. This process is called data deduplication. You can use this soft match for data mapping besides the hard match such as passport number and PAN card number.
If you want to cross-sell products, you will need intricate details of the target buyers’ behavior. The benefit to the customers is that they will receive products and promotions which are relevant. Let’s say, there are 10,000 people who can afford an LCD TV priced at Rs 35,000, but the company is selling it at Rs 45,000. The company which has a customer data integration engine running, can create a product to suit that budget, test it on a small customer base, and then launch it. For a large product launch, the customer data integration suite will identify the people who interact regularly with the company.
Achieving the single version of the truth
In the case of a bank, the customer may get marketing material for a credit card, statement for a home loan, etc. These should be recognized under the same identity for the same customer rather than show up as different customers due to faulty data entry. Therefore the first thing is to ensure that data capture is standardized. This will include meta-data management. Meta-data management and customer data integration must go hand-in-hand. Meta-data management is a large domain that covers all business entities which produce data.
Executing marketing promotions
With customer data integration, select customer areas can be focused on and various segments targeted accordingly. Customer data integration will also help you get a clear view of the behavioral patterns of customers and enable you to customize your mailers. Costs reductions can also be made, for example, by mapping households. In many cases, a husband and wife may be listed as separate entities in the system. You can match their addresses and other details, and discover that they are part of the same household. In this way, you can evaluate the credit-worthiness of the household—this is known as house-holding.
Managing CRM applications
Customer data integration is essential for the success of CRM. You need to have accurate customer details (the single version of the truth). This is important so that all the customer service employees (from those who call the customer to those who process the application) have a clear view of the customer and see the same data. Organizations are mainly utilizing customer data integration for customer retention by having a 360-degree view of them. Their next step would be using customer data integration to get new customers.
About the author: Vasant Shetty is the founder and EVP of DataStraits, a BI consulting firm. His domain expertise lies in banking, insurance, retail and pharmaceuticals verticals.
(As told to Sharon D’Souza)
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This was first published in August 2011