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.

 

Know Your Customers – improving your Corporate Social Responsibility

It’s not only what you achieve, it’s also how you behave. Some small organizations can still behave somewhat undetected way to achieve successful results. For medium and large organizations that is not what governments and customers expect from them. Transparency on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are key in this and therefore a significant number of countries agreed on these in, amongst others, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

This week, the latest results have been presented in The Netherlands on Transparency in the Banking area. And although some institutions score really good, others really need to take it at least one mile further to get a good or even fair score.

We agree with the recommendations of the report that compliance regulations can help/force in being more transparent, e.g., the SEC in the USA is enforcing more detailed information than their Dutch peer, the AFM. And also for Basel II the financial institutions need to know who they are dealing with in the end. The phrase – in the end – makes it even more difficult for the CSR, because not only the ultimate legal entity is now needed, but additional details per region and per sector are required. Continue reading ‘Know Your Customers – improving your Corporate Social Responsibility’

Know your customer to trust your data

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The success of many business processes is linked directly to the quality of customer data. This is not only an obvious fact, but a recurring conclusion of many field studies: Incorrect, incomplete and inaccurate data will have a direct impact on your business succes rate. The symptomatology of this increase is established in inefficient marketing and sales processes, customer dissatisfaction, difficult cross- and upsell, unreliable analyses and many other disturbances in the day-to-day business of almost every organization dealing with customer, supplier and/or partner data.

In essence, it all comes down to knowing your data, in order to be able to trust your data. If you trust your data, you are definitely doing something right. So, how do you establish that trust? For this, you first have to answer a short, yet rather complex question: What is what in my database(s)? In other words: You have to identify and interpret the data you are working with .

A robust customer data identification solution intelligently interprets the details of both natural and legal persons. That process has to take account of the significance of words in a specific context, usage of company names, abbreviations, synonyms, acronyms, spelling mistakes, notation methods, standards and phonetic similarity of words. All in all, this is not a simple task; it more or less mimics the capabilities that humans show when interpreting data … Continue reading ‘Know your customer to trust your data’