To stay ahead in a crowded marketplace, you need to deliver exceptional customer experiences. That means knowing exactly who your customers are, what products they own or are interested in, how and when to anticipate their needs, and much more. Without customer data, you’re in the dark—but you also need that data to be relevant, reliable, and contextual.
A customer data platform can put that kind of valuable information at your fingertips and deliver the insights needed to personalize customer interactions, build loyal relationships, and offer the right experience at the right time.
What is a customer data platform?
But what is a customer data platform, exactly? According to The Customer Data Platform Institute, a customer data platform is “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” The Customer Data Platform Institute specifies five core capabilities:
Ingest data from any source
Capture full detail of ingested data
Store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints)
Create unified profiles of identified individuals business goals.
Share data with any system that needs it
Customer data platforms have evolved their capabilities even further, with next-generation platforms using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to power deep analytics and marketing activation, and drive broader customer experience decisions across marketing, sales, and support.
There’s no question that a customer data platform is key to business success, so what should you know before building one? Let’s walk through a few best practices.
Customer data platform best practices
Not all customer data platforms are equal. Once you have created one, there are countless ways to customize the data to deliver the most value to your business. Here are some best practices to help maximize the benefit of a customer data platform:
Create context using AI: Supercharge your ability to personalize experiences for your customers using AI, which helps analyze data, and provide insights, at scale.
Empower teams across the organization to use the platform: Train not only your marketing and sales teams to use your platform’s data tools, but teams across the company, from customer support to product development and design to business intelligence. There’s an enormous amount of potential data that can flow in from multiple sources, so streamline by asking each team to specify what data sets will be more valuable to their work.
Make sure you’re compliant: Any entity collecting data must understand compliance standards around data governance. For instance, if a European Union citizen were to fill out a form on your site, their data is protected by the EU’s GDPR regulations. Your data platform might inadvertently put you at risk of violation if not managed properly. Have your legal, compliance, and information security team members provide direction to optimize your customer data platform, so you mitigate any risk of a data or consent breach.
Make data more engaging and palatable with the right dashboards: Compiling data is only part of the journey. For teams to really engage with data and understand it, data visualization is key. Good data integration will allow your teams to see data in ways that are easy to absorb and respond to.
Reduce data noise and redundancy: With so much data flowing in through multiple sources, there’s a high risk of collecting duplicate data. Use a master data management approach that puts checks and balances in place to trim data and minimizes redundancies, so you have clean, high-quality data that teams can trust.
Customer data platform success stories
Here are a couple examples of companies winning with customer data platforms:
JDRF uses data to help improve lives
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. To keep up the pace of funding and progress, JDRF needed to know its supporters, so they could tailor communications accordingly. For years, JDRF used Salesforce to manage donor information, amassing approximately 10 million donor records. However, over time, the data became duplicative and was often incomplete.
To enable more personalized relationship management and strategic, data-driven decisions, JDRF
needed a single, unique view of every supporter in Salesforce. With Informatica Master Data Management, JDRF reduced its existing 10 million records to 3 million unique supporter records, giving it a clear and complete picture of its supporter base. Out of those 3 million records, 1 million represented past supporters with whom the organization was not currently engaging, immediately increasing its pool of potential recurring donors by 50 percent. Learn more about JDRF’s results.
Wolters Kluwer empowers sales with deeper customer insights
Headquartered in the Netherlands, Wolters Kluwer helps clinicians, nurses, accountants, lawyers and other professionals in highly regulated industries make business decisions by providing insights, tools and SME guidance. The company serves 93% of the Fortune 500 companies, 100% of the top U.S. accounting firms, and 90% of the top banks globally.
The global provider has always been at the forefront of innovation, and today, it’s making huge leaps forward by bringing together even more data sources to inform decision making. For example, Wolters Kluwer has implemented a customer data platform that provides marketing and sales teams deeper insights, so they can have more meaningful engagements with customers.
Getting started with a customer data platform
There’s no question that a customer data platform is integral to delivering unmatched customer experiences, which are critical to maintaining a competitive edge. But, going it alone could make you vulnerable to compromised data quality, compliance risks, and missed opportunities for actionable insights. Learn about common missteps to avoid while getting a comprehensive guidance on designing a customer data platform strategy – download Customer 360 for Dummies now.