In today’s digital-first business landscape, the key to profitable customer relationships is understanding customer needs and motivations, delivering customer delight and experiences, and establishing efficient business operations to make it all happen consistently. This trifecta of customer revenue and relationship imperatives is only made possible when the right teams can access and work with large volumes of quality customer data.
But what happens when your teams can’t tap into essential customer data? An inability to use customer data is rarely because your business and teams do not have access to data tools, talent, or resources. Rather, the roadblocks are the inability to establish customer trust causing people to not share vital information. Or the organization fails to meet data compliance or establish ethical data use standards. Or worse, your customers have abandoned your brand because of the company’s laisse-faire approach to data privacy. Facebook, Marriott, and First American Financial, to share examples, all have faced one or more of these challenges often revealed during a data breach.
The trick is how to compile, analyze, and put customer data to use in a way that provides customer insights and delights customers while respecting customers’ privacy and meeting compliance regulations. So how can business, technology, and operations leaders master this data high wire act? Here are four strategies to optimize customer data and ensure data privacy protection and governance.
NOTE: Register today as we will be diving into these customer data strategies at Cloud Wars Expo on June 28 – 30 in San Francisco
Craft a Company Data Strategy and Share it Proactively with Customers
The most important first step is to develop a company-wide data strategy. There are five core components of a data strategy that work together as building blocks to comprehensively support data management across an organization: identify, store, provision, process, and govern. A company data strategy is designed to manage and improve how you acquire, store, manage, share and use customer data.
When it comes to customer dazzle, govern, share and use are the operative words that matter to customers and where trust is often gained or lost.
Is how you manage and ensure quality while complying with industry data and legal privacy regulations.*
Is the internal and external people and organizations you grant access to customer data.
Is how the data is accessed and the scenarios where customer data can be used.
* A few important examples include the California Consumer Privacy Acct CCPA in North America or General Data Protection Regulation GDPR in Europe
Create a Data-Driven Culture that Places Customer Data Privacy and Respect at the Core
As your customer data mission and strategy are crafted and data policy communications are put in place, it is essential to nurture a company culture that respects customer data. Reward and highlight those that demonstrate and follow this credo. On the other hand, make sure when mistakes are made, you are upfront and visible so your team can learn and grow.
Also, customer data privacy is about more than legal compliance. The consulting form Sentinel, a Privacy Advisory, publishes this advice:
A productive starting point for your customer-centric privacy approach is to know and understand what data is important to collect, use and share. Then ask a few simple questions:
- Why are we collecting this customer data? And which data is critical to serve and delight the customer and our business objectives?
- What is the right level of data to gather and use?
- What are the right ways to use this customer data to ensure data privacy and customer protection?
- Does our use of customer data meet our own data ethics standards as well as legal compliance regulations?
The bottom line is if you value customer trust and loyalty, you and your organization must establish and adhere to clear customer data policies and processes and how and when which customer data is used for what business purpose.
Involve the Customer in Data Management and Privacy Process
The brands and businesses that thrive over time have a firm grasp of their customers’ needs, values, and wants, including how their data is handled. One of the best ways to sanity check and ensure a strong customer-centric data strategy and approach is to involve your customers in the process. Ask them! This can be accomplished as part of your customer advisory groups. Or many organizations form a special council or group that focuses on shaping and guiding impactful customer data policies. The makeup of this customer group reflects your ideal customer profile and typical customers so that you get real-world guidance that can be confidently used to shape your approach.
A companion to your customer data customer council, an absolute must be using an internal data governance team made up of data, customer, and compliance pros. Involving leaders who understand and represent the voice of the customer on this council is imperative. This group has the responsibility to not just craft the ethics, privacy, and data management strategy and policies, but to be the guardian of customer needs and expectations. Once this is in the company ethos and culture, you can now confidently get into the business of winning the hearts, minds, and revenue of your customers and growing your relationships.
Customer-Centric Data Strategies for Customer Delight
Customer data is most valuable when personal data privacy is prioritized, customer data usage policy is transparent, and users have control. Don’t just adhere to industry regulations or wait for compliance laws to be passed. As business leaders, we can set our own standards that meet customer expectations, inject delight that keeps customers loyal and happy and instill a sense of pride in our employees. After all, this is what smart business is all about.