Why is customer data still an issue?

Collating and maintaining accurate, reliable data is crucial to understanding your customer, creating exciting and relevant data initiatives and supporting your business goals… so why exactly does customer data still present such an issue for retailers?

Ever heard the phrase ‘single source of truth’? How about a ‘360° customer view’? Or perhaps the term ‘golden record’?

These buzzwords all describe data platforms that aim to deliver the same thing: a clean, accurate and reliable source of data. But why is this necessary?

The more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor your products and services to meet their requirements. According to an Accenture survey, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations. It’s not surprising, then, that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalised experience.

But while demand for personalisation has skyrocketed, collecting customer data can be like cleaning a teenager’s bedroom: it’s messy, all over the place, and no matter how much you try to put a system in place, everything has inevitably fallen apart by the next time.

So why exactly does customer data still present such an issue for brands?

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Disparate data sources make it harder to exploit trends

Nowadays, evolved technologies have made it possible to obtain customer data from all kinds of sources. Companies ask for customer feedback on emails, mobile apps and web forms, while data can be collected via marketing automation, CRM systems and purchase information.

When data is coming from lots of different places, it makes it harder for companies to package it up in a way that’s actually useful. Marketers may end up drawing data from one data source (e.g. feedback via a web form) to produce their customer profiles, while being unaware or unable to access data from another source (e.g. previous orders).

This is why data management consultancies bang on about having a ‘single source of truth’ for your data. Brands end up with reams of information from all over the place, but unless they have a single, consolidated source of data, there’s a chance they could miss certain data sets out completely.

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Inaccurate data weakens your pitch

It’s not just having too much data from too many sources that companies need to worry about. Data can be duplicated, missing, mislabelled or include typos galore, and companies might not have the resources or time required to clean it up.

While the odd mistake here or there might not be world-shattering, data build-up over time means that manual corrections become too laborious for most companies to consider, leaving them with poor-quality data that isn’t fit for purpose.

Plus, with data decaying over time, if brands are not regularly updating their databases, then they’ll be trying to create campaigns that are out of date before the train has even left the station.

Scaling up can cause a dramatic shift

Perhaps you do have a handle on your customer data. Perhaps you’ve polished your datasets to a fine sheen, organised them around your marketing goals, even split them up based on factors such as demographics and customer behaviour. However, the next time your company scales up or opts to move in a new direction, you might have to rethink your entire approach.

One example is when once a company undergoes a merger or acquisition, in the process having to integrate a wave of legacy data and systems that bear little resemblance to their existing data governance model.

With a single customer view, the process becomes less daunting. With data collated in one accessible place, information can easily be layered onto new systems and new data incorporated: without needing to scrabble around for disparate data sets stored across the business.

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Getting a single version of the truth (or golden record, or 360° view…)

Whatever you choose to call it, collating and maintaining accurate, reliable data is crucial to defining your customer, creating exciting data initiatives and supporting your business goals.

Amplifi have years of experience helping retailers big and small define their customer data, collate the right information and obtain that elusive ‘golden record’. Download our guide How do you define your customer? where we talk you through the process, from getting the information you need, to making the right decisions with data.

Download | How do you define your customer?

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