I recently phoned my mobile operator with a query. I spoke to five different people, all of whom made me quote my customer account number, and repeat the details of my query, which I can now do in my sleep.. (That was AFTER I’d diligently keyed my account number into their call-handling system.).
A few months earlier, I saw the CEO of the very same company speak, with passion and conviction, about putting the customer first. Sadly my experience was completely at odds with his intent.
But this isn’t about his sincerity, or that of the other people in the organisation. It’s about disparate systems, processes and databases, each of which is responsible for a different part of the customer relationship.
In my experience, the organisation in question is actually in the majority. The reality (and it’s a difficult one) is that to be truly ‘customer centric’, you need a single database which feeds all processes. Whilst I would never underestimate how difficult it is to adopt this ideal, it’s worth trying to go as far on the journey as possible, because every step will reduce innefficeincy, improve the customer experience, and so help the bottom line. If you don’t adopt a customer-centric philosophy, processes and systems can proliferate to the point of collapse,
Some call this Customer Data Integration (CDI), or Master Data Management (MGM). I call it Data Harmonisation, because it involves taking many different different inputs and orchestraing them towards a single, co-ordinated ensemble.
The nearer you get to a single customer database, the more duplication you drive out, and the more value you add.