B2B companies understand data is a foundation for success. Our business goals are packed with objectives like generating leads, building the pipeline, shortening sales cycles and reducing churn. The more we can understand about what’s happening in our business, the better we can take action to improve performance.
As a result, we work hard to capture good quality customer data in our CRM. We then use a plethora of sales automation, marketing automation and workflow tools to ensure that all of our data is maintained and every customer activity is tracked. It works like a dream, right?
In reality, maintaining good data quality is a real challenge.
I’m at Dreamforce this week and I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the keynotes and catch up with many of our customers. The hot topic or at least the biggest pain point that I keep hearing is around data quality – closely followed by system integration and adoption. When it comes to conversations around data quality, everyone seems to agree on two challenges:
- The customer data that we store in our databases, CRM systems, sales engagement platforms and marketing automation platforms is continually decaying. This is especially true of the most important data of all – customer contact data.
- Despite the plethora of automation tools available today, there is still a fundamental requirement for everyone in an organization, from Account Executives to Customer Success Managers to manually input CRM data. For perhaps obvious reasons, this is not always completed to the highest standard, if at all.
Let’s take a look at these two challenges in a little more detail.
Decay – Confidence in Data has Reached a New Low
Dun & Bradstreet recently released their 6th Annual B2B Data Marketing Data Report. The report cited that 89% of those surveyed believe data quality is critical to business success.
It makes sense:
- A CTI or Power Dialer cannot connect you to a person if the phone number is wrong.
- A marketing automation platform cannot communicate with a bounced email address.
The truth is business addresses, emails, social profiles, phone numbers and employees for your customers and prospects are changing all the time. People move jobs, change phone numbers, change twitter handle and change email domains. You have to rely on them to a) tell your staff AND b) for your member of staff to update the CRM every time there is a change.
Is that realistic? How long would it take you to go through all your emails to find all of this information?
It’s perhaps no surprise then that 49% of businesses surveyed by D&B in the recent report were ‘not confident with the current quality of sales and marketing data’.
D&B concluded that for businesses to succeed, there must be a thoughtful plan and concerted effort to improve data quality.
Data is the Cornerstone of Delivering the Best Customer Experience
The lines between marketing, sales, service and success are beginning to blur as all of these teams connect with customers throughout their journeys. At the same time, customers are demanding real-time, personal, omnichannel service. Poor experiences cost big, as B2B firms using SaaS solutions can switch out providers at the drop of a hat.
To deliver a flawless customer experience our teams need access to real-time, accurate and rich customer data. Too often, this information is hidden away in different pieces of software and other silos like email accounts.
The synchronisation of data from all interfaces and platforms into a CRM like Salesforce is the only way to deliver a true view of the customer.
With all the talk of AI, Machine Learning and Voice technology at Dreamforce, some of the biggest players like IBM and D&B and Parker Harris himself are talking about the ‘Data Age’.
The D&B report demonstrates that B2B companies understand that data plays a crucial role in enabling all the moving parts of a business throughout its relationship with a customer.
Many of our customers and partners are evolving their strategies to get the right data, context and insights to their teams in real-time to drive revenue with true customer engagement.
For me, it’s first about breaking down the data silos and helping companies to function as one. Once you achieve that, the world of AI and Machine Learning is yours for the taking.