Data Management: The Foundation of Journey Success

Businesses Struggle to manage data. Data management can be overwhelmingFor best results when managing customer journeys, your business data needs to be in order. Most business leaders actually do already know this, with hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on data analytics, database technology, and data management. But even as spend on data management continues to grow, the quality of overall customer experience remains static. It’s easy then, for leaders to be dismayed. To solve for this, new data collection methodologies have sprouted up, reached the market, and been deployed. These have made it easier than ever for marketers, cx leaders, even sales and service professionals to gather data with every click or page view.  There is only one problem. This data is no good for your business if it isn’t put to good use. In fact, for those ill-equipped to interpret and manage this wealth of data, dealing with it can overwhelm your team, leaving that data unused and your data management funds wasted. How can a business truly put their data to go use?

Building a Comprehensive Data Management Strategy

The truth is, many organizations lack a comprehensive data strategy. This means that in practice, their Marketing and CX investments do not, in turn, mean that they can effectively improve the customer experience or drive revenue growth. This creates a negative return on investment.  Despite the importance of data for modern businesses, having buckets of data is simply not enough. While data is crucial for all parts of customer journey management, just having it is not enough. You need to have a structure. Specifically, leveraging this data calls for a structured approach to data management.  

What does this structured approach look like? The two key elements are consolidation and a strategic framework.  As we mentioned above, the collection is not a problem, but getting your data into a place where it is usable by your business systems is what matters.  Once the data is in place, you need a strategic framework that breaks down the data into useable and manageable chunks. We call these chunks “journey steps” because they’re core pieces of the customer journey. 

Break Down Data Silos: Is Centralization the Only Option?

Decentralized decisions Your business is likely made up of different business units, each with its own data. Most businesses are organized like this. It’s only natural that the customer journey data your organization collects lives in disparate silos as well. The challenge is that if you want to use data from across the business to influence customers across their entire journey lifecycle, this data needs to be in one place. This consolidation allows you to better understand your customers, personalize their experiences, and track how well customer journey changes are performing in your business. 

Many businesses have realized this. It was a major topic of conversation at the Digital Customer Experience Strategies Summit, where “digital transformation” was at the center of discussions around CX. More than any other complaint, we heard that business leaders were frustrated with how slowly digital transformation takes place, especially when customer experience management was concerned. This is because while consolidation efforts are necessary to use customer data effectively, centralizing the data in a single database is not the only way to do this. What some have turned to is what Kitewheel’s Martyn Payne refers to as a “virtual CDP”, which builds on broader trends towards virtualization across technology infrastructures. By building a layer of virtual customer data that connects data sitting in different locations, businesses can move much more quickly, consolidating data without the data loss inherent with normal consolidation projects.

Build a Better Framework

Building a framework together is most powerful for data management.To operationalize or even create a strategy for the data you’ve consolidated, you must now take the next step. Your business needs a framework for your data. This data framework will not only enable you to effectively use data from all parts of the business but will also provide a standard measure for how effective your customer journey initiatives are.  This is because a common framework shared across your business can make data less messy, and more comprehensible across business units. With many business opportunities lost each year to lag times created by messy data, there is no better time to invest in a better framework. 

Your framework may look different from any other business, but what’s crucial is that it’s consistent. Ultimately, this cuts down on repetitive tweaking whenever your business wants to do anything from basic administrative tasks to deep dives into the data to build a new strategic vision.  By articulating a company-wide data framework, your data teams will have a greater impact on all parts of the organization. Even aside from productivity improvements, a proper framework makes deep data analytics possible. Without these analytics, companies struggle to know how they are performing in the customer journey space. According to Forrester’s recent report, “The Journey Measurement Framework: Assess And Predict Journey Performance,” CX pros often don’t know whether the customer journeys they implement deliver any value to customers, let alone to the brand.” This makes it difficult for them to actually improve their journey programs once they’re in place. The importance of a framework is clear – it lets you do more automation on the journey, personalize across all parts of the journey, and understand how your journey is performing.  But what is the best way to build a framework? 

Every Journey Begins With Steps

Data Management works best when you use a journey step framework. There are many ways to organize your customer journey, but we’ve found, from six years of customer journey management experience that building your data framework around “journey steps” is best. By identifying the most critical steps in your journey, your business can deploy a common set of organizational metrics that allow you to measure journey success. Whether you’re just starting on your journey to journey management success or you’re a seasoned professional, it’s crucial to have your data consolidated and in a proper framework. Understanding journey steps can help. To learn more, check out our blog on how journey steps are the building blocks for great experiences.