In which two worlds--data quality and CRM--finally collide, and Jill relishes the soft, chewy center. (Yeah, we know, it's a mixed metaphor, but you'll get the point when you read the blog.)
Remember those old commercials where a boy on a bicycle eating a candy bar crashes into a cute girl licking her peanut butter sandwich? Bang! Then, reeling, they turn to one another and variously exclaim, "Hey, you put peanut butter in my chocolate!" and "Hey, you put chocolate in my peanut butter!" As a kid, I wondered whether bumping heads with a boy was worth the discovery of a peanut butter cup. As a grown-up, my answer is a hearty, "Yes! Especially with a glass of cold milk!"
In another fateful combination, data quality vendors are pairing up with CRM vendors to create a veritable confection of functionality. While many IT executives have paid lip service to the importance of data quality to customer-focused programs, they've been flummoxed about how to link data standardization and cleansing processes with incumbent CRM systems.
As I've written before, data quality can make or break a CRM program. Companies have invested so much in customer-focused programs like operational CRM, market research, strategic selling, and, of course, business intelligence. But the success of each of these hinges on accurate information about our customers.
The bad news is that for many CRM projects, data quality was an afterthought. Companies are learning the hard way that data quality matters. There's a clear link between poor data and suboptimal business performance. Companies that should know better nevertheless continue pitching products to customers who already have them. They send marketing mailings to the wrong addresses. They greet customers by the wrong name when they have them on the phone or welcome them in the store. Without exception, every one of my CRM clients are begging for additional data. Hefty fines for watch list and regulatory noncompliance have amplified their pleas.
Thankfully vendors have begun addressing the problem, ensuring that data quality functionality is more tightly-coupled with CRM. The recent announcement by Microsoft and Group 1 Software highlights the promise of such partnerships.
"We've seen the best CRM efforts as the ones that build data quality in up front," says Bernie Gracy, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Group 1 Software. "Group 1 considers CRM a major strategic opportunity--and so do our customers."
Microsoft's Brad Wilson agrees. In a new webcast hosted by CIO Magazine--featuring Group 1's Gracy, Wilson, and yours truly--the General Manager of CRM, describes how Microsoft is embracing data quality, and witnessing new customer wins in the process. "Companies need to spend more time investing in customers of higher value," Wilson says on the webcast. "The quality of data drives the quality of decisions you make in your business."
Studies show that the more relevant your interactions with customers the more loyal they become. And making your customer interactions relevant means leveraging each touchpoint as an opportunity not only to use information you have about the customer for competitive advantage, but also to solicit additional data from loyal customers and prospects who want to do business with you. Better data means better customer conversations. And that's a tasty combination indeed!
Posted December 3, 2006 8:22 PM
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