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Recent years have witnessed a sea change in marketing. Campaign-driven days are gone, and customer experience has now taken its rightful place as the driving force behind marketers’ activity.
As a result, the much-touted 360-degree customer view is the marketing buzzword on everyone’s lips. But is this approach – which, in theory, enables you to see all the meaningful information about your customer in one location – a desirable goal?
The argument goes that you attain a 360-degree view by aggregating data from the various touchpoints that your customers use to interact with your business. However, the proliferation of touchpoints – brick & mortar retail, web, mobile technology, video support, online communities and social media platforms, to name but a few – have made this task complex, expensive and often unrealistic.
And it’s unnecessary, too. Why? You’re better off automating real-time communications based on past behaviours, ensuring you’re always in tune with your customers’ latest requirements. Here’s why…
CRM systems are expensive and often ineffective
Many businesses attempt to extract and connect all customer data – which sits in silos across every system you use – by aiming to install a costly CRM system. In theory, this system integrates with all systems the company uses from ERP’s and other ops tools to social media listening tools and marketing automation software to deliver a cohesive view of customer behaviour.
However, there are 2 fundamental problems with this approach.
First of all, CRM implementations are rarely successful. In fact, according to a recent study by Merkle Group, 63% of CRM initiatives fail. In other words, they devour time and resource for little tangible return.
Secondly, even if your initiative is successful, the mass of data you’ll accumulate is expensive to store – plus you’ll still have to fork out for the cost of communicating with customers via email, SMS or other channels.
But you do need tools to help you integrate data effectively
That’s not to say that data integration is unimportant. Legacy systems have created data silos, yet data is often businesses’ most valuable asset. To leverage its value, marketers and CX professionals need to begin integrating these silos.
For example in ecommerce, cart abandonment emails are incredibly effective, but to send them you need web analytics data to link to your email system. (In some cases, you may need APIs to enable systems to share data.)
Done right, integration – for example via a real-time interaction management (RTIM) platform – empowers you to trigger relevant emails based on web behaviour, which can double the value generated by your email campaigns. And at a fraction of the cost of a CRM system.
Research technology thoroughly before making an investment
But how do you know where to invest your data integration budget?
First, decide if you want to go for best-of-breed or a single software suite – and whether to opt for incremental improvement or a big-bang approach. Don’t be tempted to put everything in one box though, as it’s likely to cost too much and take too long. In reality, most large businesses’ technology is not yet integrated.
When investing in technology, consider how well it integrates with your existing systems. Remember: just because a vendor has a partnership or API doesn’t mean that different systems will actually work well together.
Always get references, and it’s good practice to look out for hidden integration costs such as set up and maintenance fees.
Boost the customer experience with automated, real-time communications
Ultimately, you need to forget about the 360-degree customer view, in so far as it means having all processed data about every customer, ready to use in one place. The quickest, easiest and most profitable route to integrating data is to orchestrate existing data and create rules that trigger engagement with these customers.
It’s crucial to map your different customer journeys and prioritise where the ball is being dropped between your different data systems. Then you know where to integrate the necessary data to start to fill the gaps. Measure the benefits to justify making this a continuous improvement process.
And monitor the entire customer journey using technology such as TouchPoint Tracker. In this way, you optimise communications and ensure your messages are always opened, saving both time and money.
By cutting out the middleman of a CRM system and using an RTIM platform to send automated communications in real-time, you’ll deliver personalised, relevant messages via the channel your customers use the most including information about each customer’s interaction with your brand – continuously optimising their journey, gathering more customer information along the way and without the hassle or expense of trying to achieve that 360-degree visibility.
Get in touch to learn more about how to automate and optimise your real-time communications, or click here to see our latest feature release.