#4 Maximising the Value of Customer Data with a Customer Data Platform


This report delves into the practical benefits of using customer data in your business strategy. We explore how customer data can be used to build accurate customer profiles and make informed strategic decisions. We also address common challenges such as disorganised data and analysis paralysis. To overcome these, we introduce Customer Data Platforms as a comprehensive solution that helps businesses make sense of it all. Our report is designed to guide you through the process of leveraging customer data to maximise revenue and achieve your business goals.

#4 Maximising the Value of Customer Data with a Customer Data Platform

The Power of a Data-Driven Approach

Customer data is your most valuable digital asset. 

Yet, many sales, marketing, and customer service teams struggle to leverage it effectively. At redk, we've seen this time and again: brands equipped with the latest CRM technology but unable to leverage the power of their customer data.

Customer data isn't just about collecting numbers and facts. It's about transforming this raw data into clear, actionable insights to drive personalisation that moves your business forward. This report explores the multifaceted role of customer data, including the benefits and challenges. We offer a solution to these challenges so you can adopt a data-driven approach that propels your business forward. From building comprehensive customer profiles to delivering an excellent customer experience, this report provides the insights and strategies you need to turn your data into a competitive edge.

Chapter One: The Basics of Customer Data 

Customer data is everywhere. It is more accessible, affordable and useful than ever. 

Businesses should be using this invaluable asset, their customers data, to personalise customer experiences at scale, maximising every single interaction. But before we discuss the benefits, challenges, and implementation of customer data, let’s go back to basics. 

What is Customer Data?

Customer data is the compass of your business, guiding every strategic move. Every time a customer visits your website, taps on your mobile app, responds to a survey, engages with your social media, or interacts with your marketing campaigns, they provide valuable insights. 

There are four main types of customer data, including: 

  1. Basic Data: Gather fundamental details such as names, demographics, and contact information to build comprehensive customer profiles and personas.
  2. Interaction Data: Monitor how customers engage with your business, tracking website visits, social media activity, and email responses to understand audience dynamics.
  3. Behavioural Data: Examine specific customer actions, such as purchase histories, site usage, and product interactions, to uncover patterns and preferences.
  4. Attitudinal Data: Collect subjective feedback through reviews, surveys, and direct communication to gain insights into customer sentiments and satisfaction levels.

Your customer data isn't just confined to your customer-facing platforms. It extends to the backend systems that don’t usually share data, intertwining with your marketing platform, service software, and e-commerce engine. Your customer data will always point you in the right direction, helping you make strategic decisions. 

Data-Driven vs. Data-Informed

Once you understand customer data, you can use it to drive your organisation ahead of the competition. 

A data-driven organisation empowers its employees to dive deep into the data pool. They don’t rely on data analysts. Every team member can find data, analyse it, build a dashboard, and use it to make strategic decisions.

On the flip side, data-informed organisations take a broader approach. Here, data is a critical input but not the sole determinant. Decisions are also shaped by internal research, personal experiences, and broader insights. While these organisations value data, they may not possess the same level of data proficiency found in data-driven entities.

However, the proof is in the performance. Data-driven organisations are 58% more likely to outpace their revenue goals than their peers. The message is clear: integrating a data-driven approach helps you understand your customers better and achieve your goals faster.

The Building Blocks of a Customer Data-Driven Approach

Now that we've outlined customer data and underscored its importance, let's dive into the fundamentals of creating a data-driven approach. 

According to McKinsey & Company's insights in Five Technology Building Blocks to Power Customer-Centric, Data-Driven Growth, organisations must embrace five elements to use customer data to their advantage. These building blocks form the foundation for any organisation aiming to transform its operations and strategies around customer data.

1. Data

Data provides a full-circle view of your customers, making your interactions more innovative and personalised. You will understand your target customers like never before, enhancing identity resolution and allowing dynamic audience building. 

2. Decisioning

Do you wish you could predict what your customers want? With the right data, you can. It's about using insights to make quick, sharp decisions. No more guessing. Just intelligent actions based on solid data.

3. Design

Design is more than just pretty graphics. It's about creating experiences that stick. With the best tools, your messages hit harder, and your impact is unmistakable. Centralised assets, a clear taxonomy, and modularisation help create streamlined and effective customer communications. It's all about connecting with customers in ways they'll remember. 

4. Distribution

Imagine always knowing the right thing to say to your customers. Distribution is about making every experience personal and relevant. With first-party data microsegments and an agile test-and-learn approach, you're always on point, making every touchpoint count.

5. Measurement

See your results across multiple channels in real time, and make sure you're always on track. You can tweak, adjust, and improve with instant feedback, keeping your strategy sharp and effective. This includes automated dashboards and high-fidelity in-channel analytics that offer insights into customer behaviours and preferences.

These five building blocks are practical tools to accelerate your customer engagement and drive your business forward. Get these right, and you're set for a customer data-driven journey that leads to growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer data helps you make informed, strategic decisions. 
  • Customer data is not limited to customer-facing platforms. 
  • A data-driven approach is more likely to boost your revenue. 

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Chapter Two: Maximising the Value of your Customers Data

Customer data eliminates the one-size-fits-all approach. 

It reveals different customer segments that need personalised customer experiences designed just for them. In this chapter, we explore the different benefits of customer data and how they facilitate better outcomes, helping you achieve your business objectives. 

Build a Unified Customer Profile 

Find the person behind the data with a 360-degree customer profile.   

It’s easy to forget that each click, purchase, and customer service email is a real-life person—a customer with real experiences, needs, and wants. When you look at each customer interaction as an isolated event, they are just numbers on a screen. However, when you stitch these interactions together, it reveals the individual behind the data. You find a narrative that allows you to anticipate needs, tailor experiences, and engage in a meaningful, relevant dialogue with that individual customer.

With this profile at your fingertips, businesses can transition to a more refined, segmentation-based strategy in their marketing efforts. Segmentation involves dividing your customer base into smaller groups based on shared attributes or behaviours. This targeted approach allows you to design and implement marketing strategies that are specifically tailored to resonate with each subgroup. Instead of casting a wide net with generic messaging, you're crafting a series of precise, targeted campaigns designed to appeal directly to each segment.  It enhances engagement, boosts loyalty, and ultimately drives higher conversion rates.

When businesses communicate with customers in a way that's directly relevant to them, the chance of engagement skyrockets. This builds a foundation of trust and relevance that keeps customers coming back. A finely tuned strategy that leverages a unified customer profile to deliver segmented, personalised marketing is essential for businesses eager to stand out today.

Personalise Customer Experiences 

Data allows businesses to tailor customer experiences like never before. It tells us who to reach, when, where, and with what message.

Personalisation is more than just addressing a customer by name. We must understand customer preferences, behaviours, and needs on a deeper level. We must analyse customer interactions across various touchpoints to find recommendations, content and solutions that resonate on a personal level. Deep personalisation builds loyalty, elevates customer satisfaction, and drives significant growth.

However, customer data doesn’t just tell us who to target; it also shows us who to leave out. Strategic suppression enhances the efficiency and relevance of our marketing efforts. It identifies and excludes customers who don’t need to see certain messages, streamlining your marketing focus and increasing the relevance of your customer communications. This ensures that your marketing resources and budget are deployed for maximum impact.

When we combine personalisation with strategic suppression, we're not just sending a message. We're starting a conversation, one that's calibrated, nuanced, and deeply engaging. This is how we transform data into dialogue, turning every interaction into an opportunity for connection.

Improve Team Productivity 

Customer data improves the customer and employee experience.

Imagine a team where every member understands the customer's journey, preferences, and behaviours. This knowledge allows them to make informed decisions swiftly, reducing the time spent on guesswork or irrelevant tasks. A team like this is productive, fulfilled and effective at delivering excellent customer experiences. 

A data-driven approach transforms how teams operate and how they perceive and value their work. When empowered with customer insights, teams move beyond mundane tasks to engage in strategic initiatives that directly influence business outcomes and customer satisfaction. This shift improves efficiency and creates a sense of purpose and engagement in every task. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer data reveals the person behind the numbers.
  • Data tells us who we should reach, when and where. 
  • A data-driven strategy can also improve the employee experience.

Chapter Three: Barriers to Leveraging Customer Data

We know that customer data is important and beneficial. So, what’s stopping businesses from using it?

This chapter focuses on the major challenges of customer data and the roadblocks of a data-driven approach.

Disorganised & Delayed Data

It’s simple. Your customer data must be organised and updated - to the second.

This is no easy task, and many companies find this to be the biggest challenge, particularly when navigating outdated legacy systems that can’t keep up. They're too slow and keep data separated, which means businesses can't see the full picture quickly enough. 

When customers notice a disconnect between their interactions online and their experience in-store, it causes frustration. The modern customer expects a seamless, personalised experience across every platform—and they won’t wait for you to catch up. Businesses need real-time data that is updated every millisecond. That way, you can act instantly and maximise every opportunity. 

The landscape of customer data is increasingly complex, and we must find a way to manage huge volumes of customer data effectively. We must enhance our ability to integrate and interpret our customer data swiftly. By doing so, we can ensure that every interaction is informed, relevant, and, most importantly, tailored to the customer. 

Analysis Paralysis 

Businesses are hitting a wall with 'analysis paralysis'—too much data and too many choices. 

Almost one-third of businesses are overwhelmed by the amount of data, and Salesforce estimates that the number will more than double by 2026. We are flooded with customer data, and many aren’t sure how to understand or draw insights from it. 

First, there's the issue of volume. As our data grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to decide what’s relevant and what’s redundant. The challenge is not just understanding this vast volume of data but filtering it down to the most valuable parts. When every piece of data seems imperative, deciding where to focus becomes daunting. This overload can stall decision-making processes as teams become bogged down in data rather than educated by it.

Second, there's variety. Customer data comes in numerous formats, from structured numerical data to unstructured text from social media. Each type requires different tools and approaches for analysis, adding layers of complexity to the data management process. Companies often need diverse skills and technologies to make sense of it, further complicating their data strategy.

Then, there's the human element. Building a data-centric culture requires more than just tools and technologies. It means a shift in mindset across the organisation. Employees need to be trained in data analysis and how to apply these insights effectively. As we learned in Chapter One, every employee, not just your data analysts, must adopt a data-driven approach. The gap in data literacy and the hesitance to rely on data over intuition or traditional methods leads us further down the analysis paralysis rabbit hole. 

Customer Identification & Segmentation 

Building a 360-degree customer profile can transform your marketing strategy. Yet, only one-third of marketers feel confident in linking customer identities across diverse data sources. This struggle stems from several key issues with customer data collection, storage, and analysis.

Firstly, the sheer variety of data collection points poses a challenge. Customers interact with businesses through numerous channels, each generating different types of data stored in separate systems. This dispersion makes it difficult to construct a singular, cohesive customer identity. Without a unified view, understanding the customer's journey, preferences, and behaviours becomes very difficult.

Secondly, data consistency and quality are major concerns. Inconsistencies in how data is formatted, collected, and stored across various platforms can lead to inaccurate customer profiles. This lack of uniformity impacts the accuracy of customer identification and the effectiveness of subsequent segmentation efforts.

Finally, there's the challenge of expertise. Effectively linking customer identities and executing sophisticated segmentation requires a blend of technical skills and strategic insight - a combination that is in short supply in many organisations. Even with the right tools in place, the lack of skilled personnel can be a critical bottleneck.

Overcoming this challenge requires a commitment to ongoing data hygiene, cross-functional collaboration, and continuous learning to stay up to date. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Accurate, real-time data is the key to customer service excellence. 
  • There is a data literacy gap that stops businesses from understanding and utilising their customer data. 
  • The sheer volume of customer data often overwhelms teams.

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Chapter Four: The Solution to Customer Data Challenges

Customer data is often complex, disorganised, and overwhelming, but a Customer Data Platform can make things a little easier.

It could resolve many of the challenges we discussed above, so you can finally reap the benefits of a data-driven approach. 

What is a Customer Data Platform?

Salesforce defines a Customer Data Platform (CPD) as “technology that allows businesses to pull in customer data from any channel, system, or data stream to build a unified customer profile.” This is the essence of CDP: a centralised hub with the data from every customer interaction. 

It's about transforming isolated data points into a cohesive customer narrative. A CDP doesn't just store information; it synthesises it, offering a real-time, holistic view of each customer. This capability is crucial for businesses aiming to deliver personalised experiences. 

Companies gain a deeper understanding of their customers by providing targeted, relevant engagements. A CDP is a strategic asset for any data-driven CRM strategy, providing the foundational insights required to connect and resonate with customers effectively.

What Does a Customer Data Platform Actually Do?

A Customer Data Platform has four core tasks. Salesforce defines these as:

1. Collect Your Data

At its core, a CDP is a centralised hub that consolidates data from various CRM platforms and data streams, including siloed marketing platforms and e-commerce engines. This unifies all your disparate data and identifies each individual customer based on their engagement history. Everyone in your organisation can access this data in one place, removing the barriers between different teams.

2. Harmonise Your Data

Once your data is in, the CDP can link everything together. It connects the dots across devices, matching customers with their past actions, even the anonymous ones. This gives you a clear, unified view of each customer's journey, from their first click to their latest purchase. This cross-device identity resolution is vital for an accurate and complete understanding of each customer journey. 

3. Experience Your Data

After establishing unified customer profiles, the CDP activates this data.  It feeds real-time info to your emails, websites, and ads, making sure your message hits the mark every time for every customer. 

4. Pull Insights from Data

Once the CPD creates customer profiles, you will have a much better view of the entire customer journey. You can start segmenting audiences, developing personas and creating targeted marketing strategies driven by customer data. 

Maximise the best technology available today

Customer Data Platforms are an excellent solution for businesses, and at redk we have been successful at making Salesforce’s Data Cloud work well for some of the brands we work with. 

Data Cloud offers a robust Customer Data Platform that goes beyond traditional data management by creating a unified and actionable customer database. It integrates diverse data, structured or unstructured, from across an organisation, providing a comprehensive view of customer interactions accessible to various teams. This integration facilitates informed decision-making and cohesive strategies across departments.

The platform's integration with the Einstein 1 Platform allows it to generate actionable insights within the CRM environment. This helps teams personalise customer interactions based on a detailed understanding of the customer journey.

Data Cloud also employs a sophisticated metadata framework and AI technology, providing teams with dynamic and interactive data experiences. These features support targeted customer engagement, predictive analytics, and improved decision-making, all anchored in a deep understanding of the customer.

Essentially, Data Cloud equips businesses with the ability not just to collect and store customer data but to actively use it. It transforms individual data points into opportunities for deeper customer connection and more strategic, unified actions across the brand.

Key Takeaways

  • Combine all your data in one CPD, accessible by any team member. 
  • CPDs collect, harmonise, experience and analyse your data. 
  • Salesforce Data Cloud is a robust CPD that helps businesses actively use their data.