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.

 

Single customer view for REAL customer interaction

Having worked in the data and information quality industry for quite some years now, I’ve noticed that our industry feels that there is an urgent need for new acronyms every couple of years. Here’s a small selection: CRM, ERP, BI, SaaS, CDI, MDM, FTR….. Are you still with me? If so, you have probably been in this business for a substantial amount of time as well. As these acronyms mysteriously or automagically gain and loose popularity, I am now convinced that they all, more or less, serve the same purpose: They intend to be the “theoretical foundation” for solution selling.

Organizations spend a lot of time on optimizing their production chain, their invoicing processes and the quality of their customer database(s). For this, all kinds of tools and systems are being used (and the corresponding acronyms become popular…;-) . Some of these tools and systems are really intelligent, but many times the actual purpose of the deployment of these means is lost in the process. We need to really interact with our customers to help them benefit from the solutions we offer! Of course, we will have to make all the necessary information for customer interaction (social media data, invoicing data, transaction history data, etc.) available for everyone involved at all times.

Eventually, we all want to personalize our customer interaction. Make it a human interaction. Build a relationship…… Well, I could go on explaining my views on this subject, but as it happens we have made this one-minute-movie that explains it much better. Check it out. It’s worth it!

We make ‘null’ mistakes

Wherever software is created, mistakes are being made. Software providers often presume their products are bug-free, but software of that kind doesn’t exist. Our departments works hard to prevent it, yet in our HIquality Life Cycle new bugs could still be introduced, even in the oldest modules that have been in use for over 25 years already. 

HIquality bug cycle

Usually our customers are satisfied with our product suite. At customer support I never receive information about the successful implementations. I got to know our software through the problems that occur, and in almost 15 years of acceptance testing and customer support, I’ve seen all kind of bugs passing by.
HIquality bug cycleSoftware crashes and never ending loops are nasty. Worse are those bugs that are not that visible in the beginning, but keep on growing in the course of time.
Recently we caught such a bug in our longest existing product HIquality Identify. Continue reading ‘We make ‘null’ mistakes’

Your name is too “common”….

chinese-characters

A major bank in Dongguan (China) refused a potential customer because his name is Li Jun. Apparently, there were already over 300 bank accounts assigned to the name Li Jun. Not that this particular Li Jun was responsible for opening all these accounts, there were just too many men with exactly the same name. The bank states that the refusal is nothing personal, since nobody with the name Li Jun will be accepted as customer in the near future….. In the meanttime, Li Jun is taking legal action against the bank. Continue reading ‘Your name is too “common”….’

The added value of an integrated customer view

MDM Demo

The added value of an integrated customer view depends strongly on the quality of that integrated customer view. Every organization that is seriously planning to create a single customer view should ask itself the following question: “What determines the quality of my customer view and so the accompanying level of added value?”

Prior to answering this question we need to take one step back. Why does not every organization have a single customer view? The cause lies in the fact that many organizations have their customer data spread across multiple systems all facilitating separate business processes. Additionally customer data is often highly polluted, fragmented and incomplete.

Continue reading ‘The added value of an integrated customer view’