Customer Data Integration: What It Is and How It Works

Understanding your clients and their requirements and recognizing their purchasing preferences is fundamental to any successful business. As the volume of customer data accessible through …

Understanding your clients and their requirements and recognizing their purchasing preferences is fundamental to any successful business. As the volume of customer data accessible through the cloud grows daily, companies find it increasingly feasible to plan a successful customer-centric strategy. Nevertheless, this heightened accessibility presents the challenge of rapidly evaluating and applying extensive data.

Using a customer data integration tool to make sense of this surge in data is essential to ensure you can handle potential business opportunities. Indeed, a reliable CDI tool has the potential to revolutionize your business operations.

Let’s explore what CDI includes, how it can benefit an organization, the obstacles it may present, and some tips to initiate the process.

What Is Customer Data Integration? 

Customer data integration (CDI) involves the processing and structuring customer data from diverse databases into a consolidated and more accessible format to enhance analytical capabilities.  

For example, a business may use data integration to execute a targeted advertising campaign on its most engaged clients. This campaign necessitates the integration of data originating from various sources, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms or Customer Data Platforms (CDP), each presenting data in disparate formats. 

When done properly, customer data integration emerges as a pivotal detail within a company’s overall data control strategy. It facilitates the decision-making process, enhances business intelligence, offers a comprehensive perspective of the customer’s journey, and contributes to improved customer experience. 

3 Benefits of Customer Data Integration 

Data integration plays a pivotal role in the data governance approach. With it, analyzing data to address inquiries about your clients becomes easier and more convenient. In addition to saving time, the integration of customer data also offers the following benefits: 

#1 Eliminates Data Silos 

When planning your data integration strategy, you gain a comprehensive angle on all the data your agency collects. This ensures the integration of all data, efficiently eliminating data silos.

Data silos pose a challenge as they prevent your organization from fully leveraging data to the best of its ability, potentially missing out on valuable customer insights. For example, if the customer success team collects data crucial for the marketing team but lacks accessibility, it can hurt marketing efforts.

Consider a scenario where a customer has a support price ticket because of dissatisfaction with your service. Sending marketing emails to such an unhappy customer can be counterproductive. Integrating your data allows you to adjust marketing emails primarily based on customer actions in other areas of your organization, ultimately enhancing retention efforts.

Data integration serves as a preventive measure against these silos.

#2 Ensures the Using of Accurate Data 

You need to use data integration to avoid dealing with disparate data across multiple systems or downloading extensive spreadsheets for analysis.

Both strategies can compromise data quality. In the case of separate systems, variations in data tracking methodologies make an instantaneous evaluation challenging. Conversely, downloading spreadsheets poses the threat of accidental edits in a single spreadsheet without corresponding edits in every other, resulting in an analysis riddled with faulty records.

Implementing data integration is instrumental in maintaining data cleanliness, thereby mitigating the danger of accuracy issues in your data.

#3 Provides an Access Point for Your Data 

A singular access point for your data is crucial: it enhances data security.

With a single access point, you can precisely control who has access to your data. Without data integration, you may grant one employee user privileges across 8 distinct data collection tools. While this isn’t inherently problematic, consider a situation where the employee requires access to customer financial records. With data integration, they may gain access to sensitive financial information that should remain restricted.

Challenges in Integrating Customer Data 

Although technology is perceived to simplify data management, CDI encounters its own set of challenges. Consolidating data from diverse sources into a unified format for easy viewing poses complexities. Common issues include: \

#1 Initiating the Process

While the end goal of a CDI strategy is often clear, formulating a plan and outlining the steps to achieve it can be challenging. To prevent stagnation at the outset, creating a comprehensive inventory detailing data types, sources, source and target systems, required analyses, and report frequency can expedite the process. 

#2 Handling Historical Data

Data stored over time on internal servers or legacy systems may need more essential information, such as activity times and dates. To optimize data, it’s crucial to reconcile or eliminate irrelevant information.

#3 Adapting to a Dynamic System

The system’s data volume increases daily, accompanied by changes in data types and variations from various sources like videos, mobile devices, sensors, and the cloud. Managing these dynamic demands is more feasible with a CDI tool overseen by a technological leader dedicated to evolving, growing, and addressing daily business trends.

#4 Incorporating External Data

Data integrated from external sources, such as contracted vendors or business partners, often comes in different formats. An effective CDI tool can sift through and organize this information for seamless sharing across the organization.

#5 Sustaining Efficiency

Once integration is operational, efficient management becomes imperative. The data team must stay informed about business best practices and be responsive to new internal or regulatory demands to ensure ongoing success. 

Best Practices for Customer Data Integration 

Below are five recommended methods that will help you overcome the challenges related to integrating customer data: 

#1 Identify the Origin Points 

The initial best practice involves pinpointing the source systems from which data extraction is necessary and choosing a solution compatible with these sources. Utilizing an enterprise-grade tool, preferably one equipped with pre-built connectors and supporting no-code data pipelines, allows for customer data extraction without the need for manual coding. 

#2 Define Data Categories and Assign Permissions 

Categorize individuals with access to customer information and specify the reasons for their access. In particular, determine the responsible party for the integration process and their role. Whether it’s IT professionals, business users, or a dedicated team, this step guarantees the integrity of customer data. 

#3 Establish Integration Objectives 

Clearly define the objectives behind incorporating consumer records into your corporation and install measurable metrics to track the development and success of those dreams.  

#4 Formulate an Implementation Strategy and Schedule 

Determine the techniques and regulations to be applied to your Customer Data Integration (CDI) strategy. This encompasses aspects inclusive of information governance, first-class requirements, and safety features.  

The timeline can be contingent on the gear you hire. Utilizing superior gear can streamline the timeline, and the chosen integration technique will dictate the sequential order of the technique. Common statistics integration strategies encompass facts consolidation, facts propagation, data federation, and statistics warehousing. 

#5 Ongoing Monitoring and Enhancement 

Once the plan is placed into movement, continually verify the effectiveness of facts integration strategies and outcomes. Monitor overall performance metrics, discover areas for development, and put into effect refinements to decorate workflow efficiency.  

Seek enter from information analysts, gauge the effect of statistics integration, and iterate on approaches to foster continuous improvement. 

Ready to Start Customer Data Integration? 

Embarking on the CDI journey may seem lengthy, yet the advantages justify the effort. Enhanced customer experiences across digital platforms, increased revenue through targeted marketing efforts, and insights into customer behavior are just the beginning. With existing data sources, implementing a CDI strategy is the key; all that remains is selecting the appropriate Customer Data Platform (CDP) — an important move in the process. 

CMC Global, a leader in cloud-based data integration and data integrity, assures the delivery of data at the pace of business operations. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how CMC Global aligns with your CDI strategy. Simply reach out to our specialists to arrange a demo.