Data Strategy

How to Improve Customer Experience with Data Unification

Organizations find themselves drowning in data but starving for actionable information. Customer data is more complex, but managing it doesn't have to be.

Multi-channel, cross-channel, integrated, digital: whatever you call it, organizations today need to connect to their audience whenever and wherever they are — and they’re everywhere. 
To complicate it further, the more you interact with consumers on different channels, with different departments, at different stages of the buying process, the more challenging it becomes to accurately say who it is you’re actually talking to. 
When you interact with your audience in lots of ways and in lots of places, you end up with hundreds of customer identifiers representing just a single, real-life human being.  
That’s because the person you know as Becky Smith is also known as, or R. Smyth (according to your customer service team), or Rebecca Smyth at X Data Lane (as your third-party data provider lists her). When your contacts are interacting with you on multiple channels, it’s easy to make the wrong connections between data points or miss them altogether. 
This means you could be overlooking valuable audience segments, duplicating efforts, or incorrectly targeting customers with a confusing and costly experience.  
You are not alone. For example, over 90% of marketers have difficulty connecting more than three channels in the buyer’s journey, according to Gartner. When was the last time you connected with less than three channels from any brand before spending money with them?

Managing Fragmented Data

The threat of a fragmented database is always present. Not only are your customers coming in from multiple sources, but chances are the data you already own is supplemented with new information from third-party sources, vendors, or enrichment services. Add to the increasing amount of technology solutions and software vendors businesses take on each year, it's easy to see how customer data easily gets muddied up with duplicate and mismatched records.
This fragmentation is potentially the biggest obstacle keeping brands from achieving true people-based marketing: that is, speaking to real individuals on a real level. Unifying and matching data across disparate systems seems relatively straightforward, but the sheer complexity of customer data can make it feel like a time-consuming, if not expensive chore. Thankfully, with some key best practices in mind and the right kind of expertise at your back, it's also a strategic path to real value from your data.

What is Data Unification? 

While customer records stay static, real people have a pesky habit of moving around, changing their tastes, and just, well, getting on with their lives. This makes it hard to keep profiles up-to-date and accurate, so you need to stay on top of refreshing that data as close to real-time as possible.  
Data unification enables companies to convey the right message to the right user at the right time, no matter where they are in the world or where they are at in the buyer's journey. By merging assets across incomplete data sets, disparate tables, and outdated customer records pulled from various channels, platforms, devices, and more, into a single, consolidated view, data unification ties them all up into the same person in a reliable way. Think of it as a single source of truth that gives you complete trust in your data.
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6 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience with Data 

1. Take the Guesswork Out of the Game 
Accurate matching and linking of customer records can help your business leverage detailed insights into consumer habits, preferences, purchases, and more by unifying data to a single, trusted record. 
With a more connected, consolidated database, users can make educated, strategic decisions when it comes to future campaigns. Rather than risk team members "going with their gut" when insights fail to make sense, anyone across the business can confidently access and segment the same view to troubleshoot or uncover new insights.  
2. Streamline Marketing Messaging 
A customer could have signed up for your marketing messaging multiple ways, and without properly merging and de-duplicating customer contact data on a regular basis, you inevitably build up duplicate profiles. As a result, your customers receive the same messages numerous times, leading to confusion, distrust, frustration, unsubscribes, and potentially spam blocking. 
With data matching and unification, you can merge or delete the duplicates and maintain a single,  unified record, streamlining the messaging process for both you and your customers. 
3. Track Users Throughout the Buyer’s Journey 
As you form a consolidated view of your customers, you get a 360-view of their buying habits: how they prefer to interact with your brand, on what device, with what search terms, for what reasons. This unified view allows you to deliver superior customer experiences on an individualized level.  
Personalized deals and marketing content can be automatically triggered based on the stage of the funnel the user is in. And since these campaigns are often instantaneously triggered in real-time, the data that feeds them needs to be dependable 100% of the time.  
5. Pave the Way for Impressive Advanced Automation 
As Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI /ML) platforms get increasingly complex today, disparate data means you may not be using your expensive software to its fullest potential. Businesses depend on automated, AI-powered software to make strategic business decisions quickly. With unified data brought together in a way that is accessible and accurate, users can develop highly personalized, triggered or automated messaging to customers at minimal effort and maximum reward.  
6. Deeper Customer Insights 
Matched-on data allows users to access or build complex customer profiles, pulling information from multiple data sources and interactions without the need for advanced skill sets. These complete and granular customer profiles provide rich insights that enhance retargeting campaigns, cross-sell and up-sell efforts, and drive meaningful, relevant interactions for acquisitions. 
Not only will you get more accurate analysis derived from the data as a whole, but individual records will contain a more complete view of the customer, so you can effectively act on things like average lifetime value, purchasing history, and behavioral patterns.  

The Ongoing Customer Journey 

Organizations and their employees today often find themselves drowning in data, and yet starving for actionable information. Customer data is growing ever more complex – but managing it doesn't have to be.
With software enabled with matching and data unification capabilities, anyone in the business can gain easier access to these valuable insights with lower risk and great rewards. Juggling multiple datasets and confusing algorithms can be replaced with low- or no-code environments for a more efficient way to perform advanced tasks.
When it comes to optimizing the customer experience, organizations today no longer need to know how to acquire more data or worry about not having enough. Instead, by maximizing their data's accuracy, accessibility, and validity, businesses can realize unforeseen value from the data they already own and use on a daily basis.

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