We live in the era of technology which is continuously evolving and bringing innovation day by day. All businesses from any corner of the world realize that the digital innovation is extremely important for a more efficient customer data management containing essential information such as forecasting, budgeting, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution to keep business flowing seamlessly.  The customers of a business are what make it reach success on the top of the market. So, the importance of having a flawless customer data integration is definitely something which should concern any entrepreneur who wishes for his or her business to continue growing on the market and bring a satisfying financial return. First of all, in order to understand better the challenges which are faced when trying to have a perfect customer data integration which is ready for data analysis, you need to understand exactly what it means and why it is so important for the success of any business in today’s world.

What is customer data integration?

Customer data integration (CDI) is defined to be the process of defining, consoling and managing the customer information across an organization’s business units and systems to obtain a single version of the customer data, such as contact details, financial data associated to the client. Plus, the information gathered through marketing activities such as direct marketing, which is ready to be analysed and to be used for the purpose of maintaining a good business to customer relationship. A customer data strategy can improve the business processes and enable better information to focus on improving customer services.

Why is it important for the business?

Customer data integration is extremely important for any business because it is a key part of customer relationship management. Even if a business has gathered a big amount of customer data during numerous years, if it is not managed efficiently, the business is still inefficient to grow. Apart from the fact that the CDI ensures the fact that all departments in the company have constant access to the most up-to-date and complete view of the customer information.  Flawless customer data integration has numerous benefits for a business such as improved sales by helping organizations to understand better the customers and focus on personalizing the cross-selling and upselling opportunities, better customer service by helping the customer service agents to understand the history of the customer with the organization when responding to the service call, a more efficient data management on an ongoing basis because once all the customer information are in place, it becomes easier to update the customer records and to manage real-time data collection, and it helps the organizations differencing the customers and their needs.

What are the challenges that face customer data integration?

The large volume of data

The ability to manage large volumes of customer data is extremely important for business enterprises in order for the critical information to be made available to the decision makers as and when they need it. The challenge of collecting, managing, and value creation from the data is continuously faced by the enterprises. Moreover, the increasing number of devices and platforms and the continually decreasing cost of storage have resulted in a challenge of management and removal of old data. The unanticipated need for additional performance and capacity is what creates one of the most common challenges faced in customer data integration. Anticipating the extent of growth of the business and the customer data which will need to be integrated can be one of the strategies used for overcoming the challenge of a large volume of data and lack of storage capacity.

Protecting customer data

Another common impediment faced in customer data integration and one of the key concerns of any business is keeping the privacy of the customer information. Data breaches across various organizations which resulted in successful attacks have increased the awareness of focusing on privacy and security among the business organizations. Detecting and resolving the consequences of a successful attack and recovering the data result in considerable costs which the businesses have to pay for. In addition, the loss of important information leads to the disruption of the business which brings numerous other challenges such as losing the trust of the customers, losing money because of the decreasing of the sales and getting the reputation of the business enterprise destroyed. Customer data is a highly valuable asset for any business, so, preventing a cyber-attack and ensuring the safety of the information of your customers is one of the key challenges of customer data integration.

Charting out the customer journey

Another essential aspect which should be part of the customer data integration is the customer journey which should be available for a complete view for the customer service agents to be able to see it and give a real help to the customers’ call.  The business enterprise should be equipped with real-time customer data, touch points for interaction, behavioural stages, and cross-team resourcing that enable the charting of the customer journey which is crucial for providing the best customer experience. However, the process of how customers move from brand awareness to conversion is hard to track. The result which implies the fact that businesses enterprises are not able to integrate data from offline and online channels is due to the fact that the customer might be introduced to the brand on a billboard, checking on their computers and finally make a purchase on their mobile phones or tablets. Business enterprises have to utilize various tools that can shed some light on the customer’s path and bridge the gap between online and offline customer experiences for the customer journey to truly be part of the business strategy.

Integrating structured and unstructured data

Structured data is definitely not that hard to deal with since it fits neatly into-predefined data fields.  However, more than 95% of the customer data of a business enterprise is unstructured and it is a text-based format usually from emails, Social Media pages, and free-form text survey questions. Unstructured feedback is more like human conversion resulting in grammatical errors and lack of punctuation. The real challenge which those two lead to when it comes to customer data integration is the fact that they are both important to track, so integrating the two types to provide a complete picture might be a difficult task.

If you own a company, you already know the struggles and the numerous loss which you have to deal with when the customer database is not up-to-date or contains irrelevant information. As customer data integration is one of the most essential keys for marketing and empowers your organization to access all the necessary customer information in order to offer the best customer experience, to create personalized marketing strategies in order to increase the sales of your business. Since it is crucial to have a flawless customer data integration for the wealth of your business, you should make sure that you work with a software company which not only that has all the necessary skills and knowledge in order to find the best solutions for the challenges listed above, but which also understands the needs of your business and is ready to cooperate with you until they are satisfied.

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