There is no need to wait for flawless data systems or technology in order to gain valuable customer insights and generate real returns, according to a recent article from McKinsey and Company.

The article, titled ‘Capturing Value From Your Customer Data’, said that many companies might already have the data required to extract more accurate 360-degree customer views and enrich customer journeys, but are still leaving value on the table.

The authors write, “regardless of how far along a company is, virtually every organisation has valuable customer data assets that could be put to better and more active use.”

According to the consultants, organisations that leverage customer behavioural insights outperform peers by 85 per cent in sales growth and more than 25 per cent in gross margin. Those returns make customer data a strategic asset.

“Companies don’t need to wait until they have the ‘perfect’ systems or technologies in place,” the report said.

While the fundamental planning of any digital strategy still applies, there are two data strategies organisations can start implementing today. Enriching their current customer data and ensuring that data is accessible.

1. Enrich Customer Data

According to McKinsey many organisations already have the data required to understand their customer but “too few marry it together.”

“By pulling together rich customer profiles and rigorously tracking response rates, marketers can know precisely what types of content over what channel and format are likely to have the greatest impact on key segments and microsegments. A decade ago, the tools weren’t available to do this. Now they are,” the authors write.

By linking customer activity across different channels a clearer customer image emerges. This more accurate customer profile then enable marketers to target the right customers in the right channels, at the right time. According to the article, this ultimately leads to more efficient and effective strategies.

2. Make That Data Shareable And Accessible

The enriched customer data is of little use if it remans in inaccessible silos. However, the software that allows data linkage and access across an organisation now exists.

“Software overlays can link data silos among different lines of business, and semantic layers can funnel information into a user-friendly interface,” the authors write.

The software and the more accessible data it enables can potentially improve efficiency across the company. “Better data integration across a range of internal and external sources can cut down on search times and help analysts, auditors, and others spend less time tracking down information and more time applying the results.”

“Integrating pertinent customer data and making it accessible across the business not only cuts down on duplicate information gathering and manual data entry but can also lead to offering customers lower prices, greater convenience, and improved experiences.”

Of course the great appeal and perhaps the ultimate goal is a full and accurate customer view that seamlessly integrates data from all channels and third parties. Ultimately allowing effective customer journey design and implementation.

For many organisations this may still appear too lofty a goal. However, it is encouraging to understand that the technology now exists, significant insights can be gained from currently accessible data and that modest data system improvements can yield significant returns.

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