First Steps Toward Customer Data Integration
By Scott Hambuchen
No doubt you're aware that customer information is potentially your company's most valuable asset. And most likely your business already has some inherent customer data integration (CDI) capabilities, such as basic merge-purge and record grouping.
But how accurate and complete is your customer data? Is it being duplicated through different business channels? Where precisely is the information warehoused? Is it contained in one location—or in several places throughout the enterprise? If you're not certain of the answers to these questions, you could be minimizing the effectiveness of that vitally important asset.
To help you begin moving toward enterprise-wide, up-to-date customer data integration, I've created several guidelines to consider. But before we can outline effective CDI practices, we need to establish what CDI means.
What is Customer Data Integration?
First, let's agree on a simple definition of CDI and why you may need it. According to the national research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc., CDI can best be described as "the combination of the technology, software, processes and services needed to achieve a single, accurate and complete view of the customer across multiple sources of customer data, databases and business lines."
CDI is the consolidation of all data sources used to create a single view of the customer. The core technology layer of a CDI solution includes the cleaning, linking and grouping of customer data, as well as the technology for putting integrated customer data at the points where your business needs it—in the call center, in the mail room or even at the cash register.
It's easy to see how customers can lose confidence in a company when it proves ineffective at the simple task of recognizing them when they enter through different contact points. Implemented correctly, CDI can increase customer satisfaction by maximizing the effectiveness of customer interactions, enhancing the ability to accurately identify new, profitable customers through a variety of channels, and reducing operational and marketing costs by more specific targeting.