Customer Data: The Life Blood of Today’s Digital Economy


April 12th, 2023

So it’s Saturday morning, you are setting up for breakfast with the family. Pancakes, bacon, eggs and your world-famous fruit smoothies. Everything is cooking, the smell of bacon is thick in the air, mouths are watering. You grab the trusty blender from the cabinet, put in your strawberries, mango, banana, pineapple, some OJ and milk, a dash of honey and some ice. You hit the chop button and nothing. Check the plug and power; all good there. Looks like you are in the market for a new blender!

Where to start? Off to the web to do some research and shopping. You want the best blender, 5-star ratings, all the extra add-ons. You first google, “best blenders” and check out the top search results. You find the blender you like then google “reviews of …”. Ok, so you’ve decided on what blender to buy; now it’s a matter of where should you buy it? You check out a few websites looking at costs (do they offer first-time discounts), shipping fees, estimated arrival, etc. It would be safe to say that, throughout that entire process, you had multiple interactions with the company you ultimately purchased your blender from. Did you notice that with each interaction, your experience seemed to feel more and more personalized? The pages seem to have adapted to your interest and are directing you toward a product or selection. Welcome to the world of customer data.

Customer data is the fuel modern CX applications run on to enhance the relevance and personalization. From your experience on an eCommerce site that has adapted to your likes and interest, to a customer service representative that knows your purchase history, to the relevance of the marketing outreach you receive – all of this is powered by customer data. Have you ever signed up for a program, provided permission to collect data about you (those automatic acceptance messages when you visit a site), or used a single sign-on from your apple/google/yahoo or other profiles to access a website? That is customer data being collected and authorized (the compliance aspect of customer data).

The collection is only half the battle; how do you then categorize and commercialize that data into information and business knowledge to deliver value and insight into consumer/prospect behavior resulting in a business transaction? This is where most companies struggle. In comes customer data platforms (CDP). Think of CDP as the “plumbing” that transforms the collected data into insights, trends, personas, and attributes that can then be accessed and leveraged by various CX business applications in the support of daily activities.

Legacy schools of thought were to have each business application own and maintain their own customer data, leading to disparity in information and duplication of data. As a result, differences in experiences at each customer touch point – Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce, and the list goes on. With CDP set up as the “hub” for data to reside in and funneling out to the CX applications (CRM, Service, Pricing, eCommerce, Marketing and others) as “spokes” you remove the issues with data silos and accomplish one version of the truth.

Now no matter where your associates/employees or applications interact with your customers or prospects, they have the most up-to-date and accurate information to provide a personalized experience. This is no longer just a nice to have but a requirement to remain relevant in today’s digital economy, a recent Gartner Study tells us, Two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience, up from 36% in 2010. Experience is no longer just for traditional industries like retail, CPG, travel/leisure and others but for all industries and sectors. It brings a competitive advantage that results in increased customer attraction and loyalty. It is this personalized experience that is the new battleground of the digital economy, but more to come on that in the next post.

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