The growing importance of customer data governance

By: Sid Banerjee

May 27, 2015

The following post first appeared on Computer Weekly on May 21, 2015.

We are living in the “age of the customer,” as Forrester Research recently dubbed it. There are more and more communications channels — from company websites to call centres to social media — for customers to interact with the companies they do business with. As a result, they also have high expectations when it comes to having their feedback heard and considered.

For businesses, this era of customer-centricity presents both challenges and opportunities. Acting on feedback straight from the customer’s mouth can directly impact a company’s bottom-line by reducing metrics such as customer churn.

But there are a few steps between customer feedback and that impact. Companies must make sure that they have the technical skills and capabilities to connect to all relevant customer experience data sources, and be equipped to bring all that data together for holistic and meaningful analysis. But even before that, companies must have the right data governance in place, which a foundational piece for any advanced analysis and action.

Traditional business intelligence (BI) data is generally very explicit and structured, focusing on what has already happened. The universe of structured data is vast, including demographic information, purchase history, digital engagement, multiple chose survey responses, and other CRM data. Businesses have had their hands full analyzing and interpreting these data sets for years, but now the big data challenge is becoming increasingly urgent.

Adding unstructured customer data

When it comes to customer experience management, all of this data must be combined with unstructured customer feedback data. This data includes social media comments, online reviews, call center recordings, agent notes, online chat, inbound emails, and free-form survey responses. Businesses need to consider this data alongside structured data for a complete picture of the customer experience. That’s why, in the age of the customer, next-generation experience technology and techniques – like text analytics, sentiment analytics and emotion detection — are not optional.

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