A recent study by DMC Software found that 79% of businesses in the UK are failing to put the customer experience first due to poor data quality in their customer records. Just 21% admitted they were confident with the customer data they hold – proving there’s a long way to go for businesses who want to capitalise on the ‘year of the customer’.

Of course, many businesses are aware of the importance of data and analytics for building and cementing long-lasting customer relations – yet, the survey proves that businesses are struggling to make it a priority. It is estimated, 2020 is set to be the year that customer experience will become a key brand differentiator for customers, so if businesses are to keep up, it’s time to rethink how data practices are currently managed.

With data the foundation of a customer-first strategy, the below points highlight the issues businesses are facing, and how a meaningful and most importantly, profitable, the strategy can be adopted.

Invest in storage solutions

Many businesses face data storage difficulties, using solutions that are unfit for use or disparate systems that create an unclear and inconsistent view of the customer.

Only 43% of businesses use a dedicated CRM Click to Tweet

The study highlighted that only 43% of businesses use a dedicated CRM, while those remaining utilise Excel spreadsheets (20%), paper-based records (5%), or email software(11%). It is perhaps the latter which is the most concerning given the rise in cybercrime.

For businesses to ensure they are storing customer data securely, it is important to review their current systems and identify the right solution for effective data management. This is especially important

considering the introduction of GDPR next year to strengthen data privacy and protection. Only by making the changes, organisations can adhere to data guidelines at the same time gaining a solid overview of their customer base. 

Improve data accuracy

There are currently an estimated 2.5 exabytes of data being produced every day, and by 2020 it is predicted that there will be 44 zettabytes in the world.

With more data than ever being created, an ineffective data management solution can be one reason why inaccuracies occur. For example, 21% of businesses use separate processes to manage different business functions – such as one to manage customer relationships and a finance package for invoicing. Therefore, even though the solutions being used are fit for purpose, inaccuracies and duplicate data can occur across systems providing an inconsistent view of the customer. Ultimately, having an impact on the customer experience.

38% of businesses admitted that they have lots of incomplete records and 41% said that some had missing details. This has an enormous impact on customer relations and service, leading to customers missing important communications.  Only 21% believed that all records were complete helping to obtain a strategic overview of the customer.

To avoid such errors from occurring, it’s important that businesses have a concrete data management process in place. Employees should also be educated on the importance of clean data and the benefits not only to the business but how it directly impacts their role too.

Check for duplicate data

Alongside data inaccuracies, duplicate data was found to be an issue for businesses, with just 34% stating it was something they regularly check for when maintaining their customer records.

66% of respondents reported they found duplicate data by accident, which can become a source of customer frustration if they have to repeat their details or if issues and conversations aren’t stored on records. 13% said they cleanse data annually, while 20% said that this isn’t something they carry out at all.

It’s not just customers who are faced with annoyances when it comes to data inaccuracies and duplicates. Data inconsistencies can be a source of frustration for customer facing staff who do not have the correct data on hand when speaking to a customer, resulting in miscommunications or awkward conversations on their part.

For data to be of the highest quality and regularly updated, the example should be taken from the 28% who said that they update records after each customer interaction.

After any interaction with a customer, if not automatically updated in the system, this information should be recorded manually.  This allows everyone in the organisation to be aware of the latest interaction, to enhance sales opportunities.

While the findings do indicate that many businesses are proactive in their approach to managing customer data, it’s clear that for some, data management is something which requires immediate attention.