Customer data is gold. Precious, shiny gold.
Thoughtfully used, customer data is the key to unlocking your business’s growth potential. It lays the foundation for forging more meaningful customer relationships and tapping into new revenue streams from existing customers and prospects. See what I mean? Gold.
The trick is knowing how to use it. To fully capitalize on the true power of customer data, you need to know where to find it and how best to leverage it. But, more importantly, you need to be confident in its quality and integrity.
As the saying goes: garbage in; garbage out. Customer data has to be clean, accurate, and current.
Drowning in a data deluge?
If you take a quick look at your LinkedIn connections, you’ll likely notice that a fair share of your contacts aren’t people you necessarily know well. That’s okay; it’s just the nature of social media.
But imagine if your enterprise CRM platform contained a large percentage of vague connections you barely know and rarely interact with, if at all? Certainly not the best platform to build market share and drive revenues.
So, what can we learn from businesses at the top of their game about making strategic use of customer data?
We recently had the opportunity to host a discussion for leaders from global and local FSI companies about their customer data strategies. Specifically, we asked them to share which customer data concerns keep them up at night and how they’re overcoming them.
First, our panel shared the top three thorns in their sides:
1. Legacy technologies
It’s unsurprising that legacy, on-premise technology emerged as a common pain point among most FSI leaders. What compounds the problem is that many such institutions are several decades old. Some have even been around for over a century! Additionally, mergers and acquisitions are also commonplace in FSI.
That’s a lot of data. A lot of old data.
Of course, many older records will have been relegated to the archives. Still, it’s not easy for those that maintain long-standing customer relationships to ensure all their information is current.
2. Resistance to change
Employees from older generations may not be as tech-savvy as their millennial and Gen-Z colleagues. Many may cling to entrenched habits and be disinclined to embrace new digital systems and tools. In some cases, people might still capture and store data manually, using bulky spreadsheets saved on their desktops.
Worse still, customer insights and data often reside exclusively inside individuals’ heads! And what happens when such people move on? Well, all that intellectual property and institutional knowledge leave the building along with them.
Ultimately, in this outdated model data becomes a passive resource. It exists in isolation, in bloated and unwieldy systems. And any value that your data does or once did hold, is diluted.
3. Platform and data source complexity
The majority of the FSI organizations participating in our session said they use either Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics—or both—as CRM platforms. Many mentioned using multiple instances of each. These instances may be customized and sometimes even segregated into divisional data banks or “hubs.”
Some participants also leverage bespoke solutions. Again, these may be personalized at a consumer, product, or geographic level, which could introduce complexity and interoperability issues.
These challenges may be further amplified by current CRM data sourcing approaches, which typically include the use of both structured and unstructured data. It’s common for FSI organizations to use a blend of:
- Manual direct data entry: performed by internal employees and those of wholesalers
- Third-party data sources: such as LexisNexis, Experian, and public data source providers
- Owned enterprise platforms: such as the abovementioned Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, and others
While it may be argued that “spreading the net” deep, far, and wide in this way ensures richer and more contextual customer insights, the hurdles of integration and interoperability still loom large.
More data isn’t necessarily better data.
The way forward – intel where and when you need it
During our panel discussion, we explored some of the tactics that these forward-looking FSI businesses are adopting to ensure they capitalize on the rich and diverse customer data sets they gather.
Ultimately, the overwhelming sentiment from the panel was that we need to move beyond a scenario where people know people to one where systems know people. Why? Because this enables all kinds of downstream opportunities, automated comms and digital lead nurturing, to name just a couple.
For example, one of our speakers framed his organization’s strategy in terms of “identifying the shortest number of hops to get to the right person/s.”
What he meant was that the ideal scenario would be able to “triangulate” all the data points you have on your customers to garner specific and actionable relationship intelligence. This would involve:
- Identifying opportunities for up and cross-selling with specific customers, based on an analysis of gathered relationship intelligence
- Conducting a relationship “temperature-check” by mapping who in your organization knows who. This would allow you to pinpoint with whom your customers have the strongest personal relationships based on the frequency, recency, and relevance of their interactions with customers to avoid CSAT issues and attrition.
- Leverage existing relationships to drive engagement that leads to new revenue streams
Of course, this is just one example of the depth and granularity of the automated CRM intelligence we should all be striving for if we hope to achieve CRM excellence and differentiation.
The good news is that thanks to technological advances in the realms of AI and data science, it’s possible to overlay this kind of functionality onto your existing CRM platforms.
Focusing on what matters: building connections and closing deals
There is enormous potential for businesses of all sizes and across all industries to enrich their current CRM historical data with advances in automated relationship intelligence.
At Introhive, that’s our business. The relationship intelligence we surface allows organizations to:
- Meet warm leads easier, which drives new revenue streams
- Adopt an analytical approach to CRM intelligence, which allows for more accurate predictions
- Gain real-time visibility of customer activity reports which helps them avoid attrition and low CSAT scores
Today, advanced and automated CRM intelligence isn’t a nice-to-have. Without the rich and contextualized insights it delivers, remaining commercially viable will become an uphill battle.
There’s no better time to retool your CRM data strategy. By leveraging as-yet untapped insights, you’ll be empowered to make informed decisions that help you grow your business from within.
Data matters in Financial Service (so does relationship intelligence)
For me, it’s encouraging to see and hear so many of Introhive’s FSI clients embracing more dynamic digital CRM systems that unleash the true potential of customer data. By doing so, they’re becoming more thoughtful, proactive, and agile in their CRM approaches.
Now their people can focus their time and energy on what matters most: building connections and closing deals. This also puts them in a position to seize the first-mover advantage in their target markets.