Getting Better Analytics And Insights From Your Collected Customer Data

Data collection and analytics are tightly coupled. The mistake we see made over and over again is that companies tend to focus their customer data collection efforts with a single objective (or a single program) in mind. This treats the data collected as a short-term objective, not as a long-term asset. Over time, this results in data islands that eventually “go dark” given that no one is managing customer data as part of an explicit long-term effort.

Have A Long-Term Data Strategy

When it comes to customer data, a long-term data collection strategy almost always proves critical for any advanced analytical work that leads to meaningful business outcomes that can optimize (i.e., simulation management, condition-based maintenance, predictive maintenance and digital twins). Trending analysis, predicting behavior and customer profiling all benefit from long-term data collection strategies. Companies that understand customers’ buying patterns over longer time frames stand to win key insights versus their competitors.

Customer data deserves a data-access-centric strategy to ensure that the data is treated as a reusable asset. This implies that the data should be available to the right people in the company when they need to repurpose it or mine it months or years later. If the data is not findable, threadable (tied to other data sets) or readily accessible, then it’s effectively dark, and its chances of being repurposed are low.

If you are storing your customer data like you store everything else, chances are much of the data you’ve collected from customers has already gone dark. The tendency is to focus on analytical outcomes without preparing the precondition required for the analytics to occur over a longer period of time. If a data strategy for customer information isn’t well-executed, then customer data will reflect the problem you already have in your data center — lots and lots of data sets that represent difficult-to-access data islands.

Thread Your Data

Sophisticated analytical efforts require advanced techniques such as data threading. Threading data across many silos of data is a challenging undertaking. Techniques deployed to achieve threading include (re)ingestion of data, aggregation, parsing, meta data enrichment and indexing. Data is often so extremely siloed that the most efficient first step is simply discovering data islands and recollecting them into an architecture that allows for advanced analytics. The good news is that data capture and storage technologies are relatively cheap, but finding data and then curating it properly does require significant investment.

Customer data needs to be curated and managed as an asset. As more data is collected, it needs to be aggregated with customer data collected during the previous year (or the last campaign, the last payables cycle, etc.).

For example, if a financial institution wants to understand if a customer is approaching a life-changing event such as marriage, having children or purchasing a home, then threading becomes important because it lets you piece together various customer data collection efforts into a single threaded digital dossier. The threaded customer digital dossier allows for different customer data (collected at different points in time) to be accessed for future analytics. It treats customer data as valuable, evergreen and interconnected. A data architecture that allows you to thread and incrementally expand the customer data set is an essential component to making more with your customer data. Advanced analytics, in turn, will allow you make better use of customer data that is properly curated through threading or other data access techniques.


Separating the customer data collection process from the data curation process from data analytics is not a recipe for success. Unfortunately, most companies treat these three activities independent of each other. As a result, customer data is underutilized, undervalued and is not curated as a long-term asset.

The best customer analytics happen when you intersect people who understand the customer data being collected with people who understand how to use and access the data over time. This means that customer data collection efforts need to be discussed in one room with data architecture folks, analytical/data science teams and traditional marketing/customer success teams, ensuring that all have an active voice at the table.


Smart Master Data Management Will Power Your Customer Analytics And Insights


It’s supposed to be a post omni-channel world. A time when personalization is the norm, but as customers we know this is not the case. When customers contact companies, the companies often don’t recognize who the customer is, and they certainly don’t know what the customer’s preferences are. The truth is customers rarely get the personalized and tailored experiences they desire.

Well it’s not a shortage of data about those customers.

So why is it that when customers contact companies, most companies seem completely unaware about anything specific regarding that customer, let alone tastes and preferences. The reason is delinquency when it comes to the aggregation and management of the customer’s data inside the company.

Companies have many challenges when it comes to using customer data, particularly data that is supposed to help the company make better decisions in real-time.

David Rowley, CTO of IAC Publishing Labs, and former executive at customer experience software vendor Sprinklr, said, “the notion of a centralized repository for key business data is an important aspect of providing a more comprehensive customer experience.”

But many companies don’t have this today.

This information is called master data. “Master data” can be about products, employees, materials, suppliers but also may include documents and sales. Rowley said, “A centralized master data store (the repository for the master data) can improve real time decision making and analytics, if information about the entities (e.g. customers) is stored centrally. This provides you with a single trustworthy source of truth about the customer.” Rowley added that you can report directly on that data, rather than having to aggregate customer data from separate systems. He said, “A central view of the customer, for example, keeps various systems in sync with what the customer has done.”

Vic Bhagat, CIO of Verizon Business Services, said, “master data is more important now than ever – the amount of data being generated today will pale in comparison to what will be generated in just a few more years.” He added, “Having a master data management strategy clearly defined — early on — enables a faster approach to analytics to deliver a more proactive, predictive, prescriptive outcome that customers expect today.”

As we established, companies struggle with their current state of their customer data management, but what happens when the business becomes a little complicated, such as with a merger or acquisition. How does the company merge all the new data with all the historical data? Master data management can also help with this.

We addressed the fact that many data systems that aren’t integrated. Sometimes data problems include the actual data sources, data duplicates, no data governance and no standards. Data is not always shared efficiently within the organization. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate like separate islands. Customer service and sales do not share a crm. The company does not collaborate around the customer to ensure a powerful customer experience. The company’s various departments operate in silos. More often than not the people working inside the companies do not even know one another in different departments, let alone use data that spans across the organization.

This is a challenge for organizations who need to create easy and elegant experiences for customers. Companies need to leverage data in real-time to make better decisions. Customer analytics are not helpful when one can’t trust the accuracy of the data. And with many companies today data is often too little too late.

“Leveraging Master data enables enterprises to clean, integrate, and supplement their data to ensure a complete 360 view of their customer. With this view, companies can make informed decisions, align different departments, and create world class online and offline customer experiences leading to sales growth,” says Rishi Dave, chief marketing officer at Dun and Bradstreet, a data and analytics company who provides master data.

End-to-end master data management helps clients make marketing campaigns 30% more efficient, improve upsell and cross-sell rates by 60% and increase loyalty members’ spending by 20%, according to Informatica.

Neopost Uses Master Data For A Transformation Initiative

Neopost, a market-leading global provider of mailing solutions, digital communications and shipping services, found that master data was critical for a transformation initiative. The company wanted a way to more competitively know and serve their customers. As Neopost focused on modernizing its offerings and delivery for the digital age, strong data management has played a key role.

“Besides developing the actual software we sell our customers, we’ve got to build an infrastructure where data quality is paramount,” says Steve Rakoczy, Neopost’s North America CIO. “You can make a mess really quickly in the electronic age if you don’t have your data right.” After using master data, Rakoczy said, “We can successfully manage our Salesforce environment for the first time in over a decade.”

Master data management can help your company create more compelling customer experiences, but first the company must decide on a strong data approach.

For more from author Blake Morgan sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.


Spotlight: Bornevia Offers Customer Support for an Underserved Market

bornevia team

There’s no shortage of SaaS or CRM offerings for businesses in the U.S. But there are other markets around the world that don’t necessarily have the same offerings to cater to their businesses.

As an engineer in the Bay Area, Benny Tija realized that there may be a market for a product that he could build in his home country of Indonesia. So, he and his co-founder left their other jobs to start Bornevia. Read about the business and what it offers to Asian businesses in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers an SaaS multi-channel customer support platform.

The help desk platform includes channels like email, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, live chat and SMS in one ticketing platform. So, the businesses that use it can communicate with their customers in a variety of different ways.

Business Niche

Being the first startup in Indonesia to build a SaaS CRM platform for customer service.

Tija, CEO and co-founder of Bornevia, told Small Business Trends, “Many of our clients in Southeast Asia primarily love our solution due to two things; UI/UX simplicity plus the fact that we have WhatsApp, live chat and email integrations plus analytics to monitor individual KPIs.”


How the Business Got Started

Because of an untapped market.

Tija explains, “I used to work for a SaaS B2B tech company in SF Bay Area (now already acquired by Microsoft). Back then, I used lots of other B2B tools such as Zendesk and Jira and felt that there was untapped potentials in the growing Asia tech startup ecosystem. In April 2012, I left and went back home to Indonesia and decided to adopt the idea of SaaS helpdesk software and localize it based on popular support channels so it can fit in [an] Asian market better while we can grow our low touch tractions on the global SMB market as a SaaS product.”

Tija and his co-founder secured some angel funding and spent six months building the product before launching.

Biggest Win

Successfully switching to a free trial model.

Tija explained that early on they were worried about getting enough sign ups, so they used a freemium pricing model. But once they realized they were getting enough interest, they wanted to switch to a free trial model.

He says, “Since beginning 2015, we switched to using [a] free-trial model because we believe it’s easier to track leads this way and in October, we increased efforts on doing outbound user acquisitions locally. The results have been highly positive for our business.”

Biggest Risk

Focusing on building a product over sales.

Tija says, “ As I spent time in Bay Area as an engineer building a SaaS B2B product, my experience tells me that a great product should help market and build value itself in the long term. It was a great decision, since many people like and appreciate our product due to its stability and UI/UX design.”

bornevia screen

Team Tradition

Celebratory dinners.

Tija says, “We always do special dinner at a fine-dining restaurant with the whole team when celebrating a major milestone (raise funding, really major feature release, etc).”

Favorite Quote

“Always put your customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.” –Jack Ma

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Bornevia

Top Image: (left to right) Front Row: Michaela (VP of Engineering), Theo (Software engineer), Benny (CEO, co-founder), Albert (Software engineer), Alex (software engineer), Febry (software engineer), Tjiu (CTO, co-founder); Front Row: Richard (business development), Handison (software engineer)


This May Explain Your Customer Retention Problem

In order to grow, every company needs to acquire new customers and sustain the ones they have. This is particularly hard for many small business owners since they are usually afraid of sales and marketing. They are also bad at keeping their customers since they are so focused on getting new ones in the front door, the existing ones leave dissatisfied out the back door. Companies need to develop processes that attract, convert and retain customers if they are to be successful in the long run.

How To Attract New Customers and Keep Them

1. Fear. Small business owners run away from marketing because they don’t get it. They reason that they have no time with all the tactical daily actions they need to take everyday. They can’t pause long enough to actually understand it. The action to take: Stop on a monthly basis to plan your marketing strategy. Specifically, what actions is the company executing daily to attract new customers and keep the ones they have.

2. Not measuring marketing results. There is a perception that any money spent on marketing will yield poor results. In fact, the old saying is that the business owner knows that 50 percent of their marketing is working. They are just unsure of which 50 percent! The action to take: Only invest in marketing that is traceable and trackable. Test initiatives and then measure the results. Stop doing what fails and scale up more of what succeeds. If nothing works, keep taking small actions until something is successful.

3. Too much dependence on referrals or word of mouth. Small business owners reason that if they offer a great product or service, new customers will automatically come or be referred to the company. This is very far from the truth. The action to take: Instead, proactively get referrals by asking customers and encouraging them to share their experience on social media.

4. No storytelling. Most companies sell features and products. Unfortunately, prospects buy solutions to their problems and the best way to solve these are by telling a company story. The action to take: Ask employees what the company’s story is. Craft a narrative that is both true and inspiring.

5. No systematic marketing. When things are slow, small business owners market their products. As soon as they land customers as a result, they get too busy doing the work to keep marketing. This keeps their business flat and makes the company almost invisible online. Remember, you can’t sell anything to anyone; you just need to be there when they are ready to buy. The action to take: Monthly, assemble a systematic marketing plan which will be executed no matter how busy you get. This can include online paid marketing, email content marketing or social media.

strong>6. Low digital marketing knowledge. This type of marketing is very confusing and holds many more choices. But now over 75 percent of consumer do research on the web before purchasing anything, so every company needs to be found if they are to get chosen. The action to take: Find an expert to educate and work with you on various aspects of digital marketing including search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

7. It’s not personal. The goal of marketing is to drive prospects from discovery to purchase in a very personal way. Every prospect wants to think you are only talking to them and technology allows this to happen. The action to take Find out how your company is personalizing every interaction with a prospect or customer to make them feel special.

8. No mobile website. Less than 50 percent of all small business have websites. Without one, the company is less likely to show up in mobile Google web searches. This is bad for finding the business since over 50 percent of all searches are done on mobile devices. The action to take: Do a mobile search for your company website. Make sure it has a responsive design so there is no scrolling or pinching on smartphones.

9. No social media presence. Less than 15 percent of small businesses have any social media feed. Without it, companies are missing an opportunity to have conversations with new prospects that need their solution. The action to take: Do searches on the top social media sites of the problem that your company solves. See what types of conversations are happening around them. Get involved in that site and those conversations daily.

10. Not managing their online reviews. Today every past customer is a fan or a critic and they talk about it online. A positive comment can attract other prospects. An unanswered negative comment can keep prospects away. The action to take:Daily monitor comments on all major sites and respond with empathy and a solution.

How do you attract new customers and keep the ones you have?

Customers Photo via Shutterstock