People are strange(rs)

While I was reading Peter Hesselinks’s blog post, I felt an immediate urge to listen to The Doors, without a doubt one of the most influential rock bands of the last century. Listening to my iPod I came across another fitting “lyrics analogy”, which I found quite suitable as a title for this post….

The concept of recognizing and knowing your customer is, in essence, an ancient concept. Having a clear view of who your customer is and what he or she is actually buying (or intending to buy), has proven to be a serious business advantage over the years. You do not want your customer to feel like a stranger.

In the 1960’s it was quite common that the dairyman or the milkman would deliver from door to door. He usually knew how much milk and other products every family wanted. If he had accidentally delivered curdled milk, you would have made sure to tell him the next day. The milkman would almost automatically be informed if a family would move to another house or when it was some child’s birthday for which he consequently would have brought a special treat… This was a convenient and survivable business situation.

Nowadays, we live in a multi-channel society in which customers are used to do business in a variety of ways, which of course is far less transparent than the situation described above.

However, be it in a shop or through a website; essentially the current customer wishes are not that different than these of the customers of some fifty years ago: They still want to be recognized, they still prefer a personal approach, and they do not want to have to spend time informing you of a simple move or the purchase of another product.

But for the businesses serving that customer, a great deal has changed. Customer data is stored in a CRM system, complaints in the complaints database, the payment history in financial software and the order history in an ERP suite. This information fragmentation leads to problems with regard to the single customer view. And these problems impact virtually every area of the value chain of your business. From primary activities like inbound- and outbound logistics, marketing, sales and operations to supporting activities like procurement and human resources. Does the following list ring any bells?

  • Adding the same customer information manually in multiple databases
  • Building workarounds for customer data problems
  • Searching for missing data
  • Manually enriching customer data in one system or the same customer data in multiple systems
  • Assembling customer data across disintegrated databases

The solution to these problems lies in Master Data Management (MDM) of customer data. MDM enables companies to truly serve their customers by having the information they need at their fingertips, when they need it. Start your single customer view today.

 

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