Don't Let Fragmented Data Erode Customer Experience

Michele Warg
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Companies rely on massive amounts of data to assist with the overall customer experience. What did this person buy last time? What issue did this customer have with a product or service that prompted the person to call the company's toll-free number? What does this person plan to buy in the future? All this information is key to the way a business handles customers.

Data collection leaves a huge hole in the customer experience model of some firms. Integration of fragmented data must occur for these analytics to be successful. The sales team receives information about what sells and what's popular to find out what sales strategies worked the best. Customer service agents know if some products tend to break due to customer complaints. IT knows who visited the website, how many times and when.

Without integration of this fragmented data across all departments of a company, businesses stand to lose vital information that affects the overall customer experience when they try to gauge an individual consumer's behavior. Forbes Insights created a study with a fictional customer and the number of times retailers can try to sell something to her.

The consumer, "Messy Becky," gave retailers thousands of bits of data over many years. She became Rebecca in her mid-20s when she started working at a professional job. Then she got married and started going by a hyphenated last name at work, sharing her husband's name only at home. Messy Becky then had two children, took two years off work and had at least five mobile devices in her possession at one time due to demands at work and home.

Each aspect of this information can help improve a customer experience model, but retailers have to tie all this data back to Messy Becky's core identifier. A core identifier gathers knowledge about a customer and stores it one place. The more information a company puts in this identifier, the better it can serve a customer.

As an example, a login screen for a company website serves as a core identifier. The person signing up for this online account has to input certain information, such as an email address, phone number and a physical address, before proceeding. Optional information may include a social media account, Facebook profile or other identifying information. Some logins simply integrate an already-established social media account, and that gives retailers a lot of information.

Firms improve customer experience by learning how to tie data back to the core identifier. That means retailers need to gather data, store it properly and then apply it to their sales models. Stores must learn to take into account cybersecurity concerns, consumer law and industry standards while moving forward with a data integration strategy.

The customer experience is only as good as the access a firm has to consumer information. If companies compile the wrong information or don't know how to integrate new data into the system, they lose chances to both earn loyal customers and potentially boost profits.

Photo courtesy of Intel Free Press at


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