An effective CX program often depends on the ability of a brand to centralize and manage data about its customers. Much like a real person, a brand has different circles of people involved with it at various levels of “closeness” and “interest”. For example, the following can be considered:
- Anonymous people who browse online or physical properties.
- People who signup for just the newsletter, but do not engage further, preferring to passively receive information.
- People who create an online account or sign up for a store credit card.
- People who have shopped the brand one or more times.
- People who have signed up for the brand loyalty program.
- People who have created content in relation to the brand, in the form of reviews, social posts, Instagram, Pincherest, etc.
This is just one example of how the different strata of engagement can be classified in order of increasing levels of engagement with the brand. At Loyalty Methods, we see the creation of such a taxonomy as a central framework for deriving effective CX strategies to move people from lower levels of engagement to higher ones.
From a technology standpoint, levering such a taxonomy is often hindered by the fact that customer data exists in silos within the company, mostly driven by the different customer acquisition channels and their corresponding systems, which don’t talk to each other. For example, it is very often the case that people who register for a store credit card are not linked to the people who create accounts online, or those who come in contact with the brand through social media.
At Loyalty Methods, we use a methodology that systematically brings the data together, in an effort we label “audience consolidation”. This has two aspects – the one-time consolidation and deduplication of all customer data across all silos, and placing it in one system we designate the Customer Master; and the orchestration of channel interactions to enable the Customer Master to remain up to date, receiving updates from all customer acquisition channels over time.
To achieve such a consolidation, we often leverage tools such as Master Data Management (MDM), data cleansing and deduplication tools and basic integration methods such as web services or batch loads to connect the channel systems to the Customer Master.
However, designing a smooth Customer Mastering solution is not purely a technology problem. Each customer acquisition channel has unique constraints that may cause certain customer records to temporarily carry only minimal data, which prevents deduplication from taking place until a time when the customer chooses to reveal more information about themselves. For example, having to fill out a detailed form to register on a web site is off-putting to most customers, so it is likely that in order to reduce friction for sign-up, only minimal data will be collected online, until a purchase is done. This would prevent linking some online accounts to, say, someone making an in-store purchase.
Due to these intricacies, it is important to remember that the process of audience consolidation should not just be considered during new customer acquisition across channels, but also during customer data updates across channels, which will happen as the relationship with customer evolves, and their level of “closeness” and “interest” in the brand changes over time.