2017 has been dubbed the year of the customer, yet it seems that not all businesses are providing customers with the experience that is fitting of such a claim. A recent study that we conducted found that 79% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) weren’t confident in the data that they hold on customers, with just 21% admitting that they were.

By 2020 customer experience is expected to become a key brand differentiator; so, businesses need to ensure that they are getting a head-start, or risk being left behind. With data-led strategies one of the most important factors in ensuring that the customer experience is of a high standard, companies need to rethink their data practices to ensure that their data is ‘clean’ and offering customers the best possible service.

A different study by SAS revealed that 93% of business leaders think their data strategy allows them to create improved business processes through better analytics. They also stated that data separates business competition, thus enabling them to increase customer retention based on the data they hold.

At a time when leaders say that data is the key to differentiating your business, many companies hold customer records which are unable to provide the best customer overview. Incomplete records were found to be a cause for concern for businesses, as 38% said they had lots of unfinished data sets at present. Data cleansing was also highlighted as an issue, with 66% of companies admitting that duplicate data was only found by accident, with just 34% regularly checking records for repeated or missing information.

Often, the above issues become a source of frustration for customers who have to repeat information which hasn’t been recorded, or it means they miss out on important brand communications altogether. Effectively, leaving customers with an incomplete and substandard experience, and organisations in a position where they are unable to measure ROI due to marketing and sales efforts not reaching the intended recipient.

Yet, these weren’t the only issues that our study highlighted, as many businesses admitted that they don’t store data in a dedicated CRM. In fact, just 43% said that they use a CRM solution, while 20% use an Excel spreadsheet, 11% use email and 5% store data on paper. However, given the rise in cyberattacks, it is the use of email which is one of the biggest causes of concern. Especially, since the GDPR regulations, which enforce stricter regulations on how data is stored and transferred, comes into effect next year.

The survey serves as a reminder that while businesses are already taking steps to becoming data-driven, they need to ensure that their practices are making the most of the customer records they hold.

 

By Jade Winters, group marketing manager at DMC Software


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