Leveraging Customer Data Integration for Effective E-CRM Analytics
Thomas P. Van Dyke (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA), Hamid R. Nemati (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA) and Christopher D. Barko (Laboratory Corporation of America, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
A holistic view of the customer is a desirable resource in many organizations today. The findings from a recent DMG Consulting study confirm this reality—possessing integrated customer information is a critical success factor in 11 of the 12 business challenges facing organizations (Kharbanda & Dasgupta, 2001). To achieve a single customer view in today’s marketplace often characterized by increasing global competition, shrinking product lifecycles, and decreasing customer loyalty, companies are considering customer analytical technologies to uncover previously unknown and valuable insights. These insights strengthen customer relationships through greater responsiveness and customization, thereby boosting customer loyalty. Many organizations now believe one of the fundamental instruments for creating competitive advantage is deploying information technology that supports and fosters one-to-one relationships with customers (Shoemaker, 2001). This type of customized service can be achieved through customer relationship management (CRM) and electronic CRM (e-CRM) technologies, which enable organizations to maximize their customer relationships and increase profits by leveraging people, processes, and technology for more effective acquisition, retention, and cross-selling/up-selling opportunities. However, a holistic and integrated customer view remains elusive within most companies. Many businesses still struggle with a basic understanding of who their customers are, what they want, and what they contribute to or cost the company. This is due to the myriad of systems typically found in organizations that contain some form of customer data—CRM and database marketing, legacy and ERP (enterprise resource planning), customer service, order management, financial, call center, and sales force automation systems. In addition, integration complexity grows as organizations add external sources such as customer survey, demographic, credit, and lifestyle data. Integrating relevant data to enable a holistic view of the customer requires overcoming many obstacles, which typically encompass duplicate data, incompatible and conflicting definitions, and ownership/political battles.