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November 16, 2018
By Trey Johnson
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I often see metrics in our clients where they measure customers from one system or another but rarely expose those working with ‘The Customer’ to information which can turn the corner on value-driven relationships vs. diminishing relationships which weigh down the business.
Let’s Talk Data Management
I was sitting with a Senior Banking Executive friend of mine days ago and, while we’ve not often had common ground in our careers, she exclaimed: “Your company does data management, it brings together data from multiple places to provide a complete picture.” I was equally excited and surprised she made the connection and communicated the most basic aspect of data management – bringing data together to offer a more complete picture.
When we talk about Data Management as a means of helping you know your customer, it is from a place of passion saying each interaction as a business is a process which either benefits the customer, benefits your company or benefits you both.
These interactions occur in processes grounded in different systems – a CRM system, an ERP system, a finance system, and multiple Excel spreadsheets – and rarely consider the other data, which might enrich one or more of these systems. With Data Management, we want to bring this data together to offer a more complete picture.
A Practical Example of Stitching together your Customer’s story
So the MOST practical example of stitching data together happens when a business wants the front-line (the sales team) to know what the relationship with a customer really means for the bottom line. Here’s an example:
Bob sells to a named set of customers. Bob carries a quota. Bob’s focus is on how much is purchased (sold). Bob doesn’t know he has a toxic customer that is costing the company money. Bob’s happy but the bottom line isn’t. How does data management help?
In this scenario, Bob only understands what he has visibility to: the sales he’s made. He loves his customer, XYZ Corp. They order from him regularly and consistently. What’s missing? Possibly a great deal is missing.
Bob doesn’t see that XYZ Corp has consistently become much slower and erratic at paying their invoices to Bob’s company. Maybe XYZ Corp is taking advantage of liberal return policies to deal with their own mismanaged supply chain. Maybe XYZ Corp is managing an excessive amount of turn-over in their staff and, as such, it has simply created higher support demands on Bob’s company for continuous re-acclimating the customer staff to working with Bob’s company.
Data Management can help by bringing together the data from the systems which keep the data for these processes. If your company is like Bob’s where there is more than one source for this data; where do you think this data lives?
Personally, I’ve seen this data live in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 Sales or Salesforce deployment along with financial data which can be a single ERP or a composite of multiple ERPs, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 (or formerly Dynamics AX, NAV, GP), a Sage ERP (X3, 300, 500, 1000) or really any of a number of other ERPs. The lesser sources are often represented by Support/Case Management systems, Service Management Systems and the often-forgotten world of Social Engagement or analytics from your own website.
So, the way Data Management helps Bob know his customers better is by providing a mechanism to share analytics which calculates elements like the “True Cost” of doing business with a customer. This, in turn, might give us a clearer actual or predicted view of “True Profit”.
Data Management highlights potentially abnormal customer behaviors, like Return Percentages, especially when benchmarked against others. And while no one wants to discourage Bob from selling, his unique relationship with the customer might put him in the driver’s seat to help brainstorm a plan for reducing any of a number of other mild-to-major glitches in the relationship. Imagine being in the primary customer application, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales or Salesforce and having access to analytics for all aspects of the customer relationship?
Keeping the Integrity of your Data PLUS Enriching it!
I think it’s important to realize one other key element of better understanding the information you have, is by enriching your data with… DATA!
Data Management should allow you to preserve historical characteristics of data so you can see those processes which might make “bad behavior” disappear or, at a minimum, make it a bit more difficult to follow the trail from Order to Fulfillment to Customer Satisfaction.
Data Management should also automate and make accessible a multitude of other data providers which sit outside of your current corporate data source portfolio. These sources might be web-services which help with the geographic characteristics of the customer. They could be entirely new ways which allow you to gauge social sentiment for your customer or maybe just tools for just better understanding the language between you and the customer.
Yes, feeding email conversations or support dialogues through a Text Analytics Solution or Text Classification model may just help uncover what is NOT being said.
In closing, the point is a customer relationship might start with a salesperson (and often continues because of them) but that single point of interaction doesn’t make for a great understanding of your customers. That’s where Data Management comes in.
Trey Johnson is ZAP’s Chief Evangelist. Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, he brings experience from leading various boutique BI software and national consulting companies. A published author, speaker, and consultant, Trey sat on the PASS Board of Directors over multiple terms, concluding as their Executive Vice President. He was a long-term member of Microsoft’s BI Partner Advisory Council and has spent the last 25 years delivering business intelligence, data warehousing, and data management solutions to businesses of all shapes, sizes and “data challenges.” Follow Trey on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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