Across industries, organizations want to achieve the instant recognition and unwavering brand loyalty of companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Rolex or Nike. An effective brand is more than a recognizable logo or interesting commercial. Rather, it’s about how a customer perceives a company based on the products and interactions it provides across the buying cycle. However, maintaining an advantageous relationship is no easy feat, as organizations offer more categories of products through a wider variety of channels, to a broader range of customers, across a wider geography.
The sheer number of touchpoints available creates data challenges that can no longer be ignored or treated as a singular, isolated experience. Each touchpoint must be coordinated, integrated and consistent in order to create the most optimal customer experience. As customers move through each step of the journey – engage, buy, use, share, complete – they also use a variety of touchpoints with expectations at each critical stage. As a result, each touchpoint has to meet the expectations of the customer without hindering the flow of the journey or creating any inconsistencies in message, price or availability.
More importantly, when customers provide personal data and preferences they expect an organization to use it wisely in order to create a better, more relevant customer experience. After all, the more a customer engages with an organization, the more data is created. Organizations need to have access to that data, make it available across the enterprise to ensure consistency and ensure the experience is meaningful. They also need to apply this insight to prove to customers that they really know them.
In an effort to make data sharing among personnel and departments easier, many organizations apply Master Data Management (MDM) solutions to ensure each customer engagement is as personalized and relevant as possible.
Dissecting the components of an effective MDM system
By combining processes, governance, policies, standards and tools, MDM solutions provide a single point of reference that continually defines and manages critical data such as products, customers, suppliers, assets and their location across the enterprise. This reference point also provides consistency, maintains control and oversees how information is utilized to ensure that an organization does not use inconsistent versions of the same data in different parts of its business. However, to establish and maintain data consistencies it is important that an MDM system include three critical components.
- Data quality: According to Wikipedia, data is generally considered high quality if, “they are fit for their intended uses in operations, decision making and planning” and if they correctly represent the real-world construct to which they refer. High-quality product and customer data are essential to creating a trustworthy source of information as multiple business systems rely on complete, accurate and consistent data to drive high levels of operational performance, sales conversion and customer service.
- Data governance: Data governance combines data quality, data management, data policies, business process management and risk management and basically oversees how data are handled throughout an organization. Through data governance, organizations can exercise positive control over the processes and methods of data management.
- Data syndication: As the pressure intensifies on supply chains to deliver products faster and more efficiently, organizations in every industry are implementing global data syndication strategies and are turning to standard bodies such as Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Effective MDM solutions provide a range of advanced data publishing and syndication tools that allow organizations to automate the process of receiving data from 1WorldSync and other GDSN data pools. Syndication capabilities also allow organizations to create and publish e-catalogs, support legacy data standards and provide a certified resource of standards-compliant services.
With these key criteria in place, multidomain MDM offers organizations the ability to integrate and analyze disparate data assets (i.e., customer data, product data, supplier records, etc.), no matter where the information resides.
How MDM can create synergies between data types
Segmented brand management among different business units and too many information silos create a fragmented approach to product information management and customer data integration practices. So while you may work hard to project a strong brand, the reality is your customers may experience a negative interaction because of problems they encounter along the way including:
- The feeling of not being known
- Missing and/or inaccurate shipping or return information
- Persistent out-of-stock problems
- Poor local translations of product information
- Missing or inaccurate ingredients on product labels
- Highly publicized and costly recalls
A comprehensive multidomain Master Data Management platform allows organizations to eliminate errors and redundancies. Using MDM technology, each business unit and touchpoint can access integrated views of customers and products.
According to Aberdeen Research, organizations that invested in a centralized system of high-quality product and customer data could present a clear, consistent message across all channels. This should come as no surprise as customers conduct research anywhere, and at any time, in order to compare vendors, read reviews, and decide whether to further progress along their buying journey.
Having the information necessary to engage with customers during the product research process is an essential part of driving sales and establishing loyalty. In fact, according to Aberdeen, organizations that master customer and product data are better equipped to identify their most valuable customer engagement channels.
If the business were to manage each channel separately, the task of keeping product details, pricing, availability, shipping and offers consistent across each touchpoint would be cumbersome, error-prone and time-consuming. However, if these channels were to pull data from an MDM system, any changes would be made once in a centralized system and applied to all consuming channels and applications automatically.
The same applies to customer data that is not mastered from each channel. In this instance, corporate decision makers are forced to work with scattered and incomplete customer data, which could give customers the impression that the organization doesn’t know them. Leveraging MDM to deliver and collect data through these channels helps companies deliver the right product data to the right customers at the right time.
In fact, Aberdeen compared organizations that master product and customer data to organizations that do not and found those using MDM technology had fewer product recalls, more perfect shipments, high levels of customer satisfaction and greater revenue growth.
To gain customer loyalty and create a more pleasurable customer journey, businesses need to provide an exceptional and differentiated experience at every step in the journey. However, loyalty cannot be achieved if the organization doesn’t have accurate, complete and up-to-date information about its customers’ profiles, preferences, purchase history, preferred method of doing business, the products they bought (or returned) or why they contacted customer service.
Organizations that master product and customer data feed customers superior information and demonstrate that they understand them at every stage, which is critical to earning customer loyalty and ensuring a pleasurable customer experience.
Todd Callen is the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Stibo Systems, the global leader in multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) solutions. For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.