Choosing an apt MDM to Improve Customer Experience

By Vinod Bidarkoppa, Group-CIO, Future Group India

Delighting the customer and driving better customer experience is the holy grail for all businesses and Retail is no exception. In todays ever changing dynamics of consumer buying behavior and various engagement touch points it is imperative that organizations have a defined strategy and data driven mechanisms to manage the customer data. To build a stable foundation for Omni channel engagement and presence, one needs to address aspect of Customer Master Data Management.

 [a] What is Master Data Management (MDM)

Web Definition: (as per Wikipedia)

“MDM comprises a set of processes and tools that consistently defines and manages the non-transactional data entities of an organization (which may include reference data). MDM has the objective of providing processes for collecting, aggregating, matching, consolidating, quality assuring, persisting and distributing such data throughout an organization to ensure consistency and control in the ongoing maintenance and application use of this information.”

[b] MDM in Retail

As data is being shared and shuttled across more and more systems, would it not make sense to having a centralized philosophy and approach to manage/share all of this data? How many silos have you built? Do you create/extend item data in a variety of systems – e-commerce, data warehouse, mobile, catalog, etc. Imagine, if you can, having just one source for all Item/Product master data: Extending, cleansing, and sharing data all from one source. Maybe it is time to break down those silos and consider an MDM approach to your data.

Retailers today are looking for ways to offset increasing competition, pricing pressure and operating costs. As always, the focus is on the customer. One is constantly looking for ways to match the right products with the right customers to create a purchase. But when you are dealing with more than one “version of the truth,” it’s difficult to know which choices to make — whether planning your assortment or routing products through your supply chain.

Gathering accurate customer and product information is harder than ever for today’s retailers. Your customers are changing for e.g. shopping style, shopping pattern, preferred channelfor shopping etc. A single customer might use different channels for different purchases — preferring to browse the store for a new television and shop the Web to order DVDs, for example.

When retailers can deepen their knowledge of the customer across all of today’s proliferating retail channels, they can strengthen customer loyalty, increase share of wallet, minimize operational costs and maximize profits. It sounds so simple – so why is it so hard?

It is not uncommon for a retailer to have a set of systems for retail point-of-sale, another for e-commerce and yet another for the call center, with information entered and stored differently and in different formats in each case. Given this fragmentation, it is no surprise that it is challenging to coordinate marketing, sales and customer service across Web, brick-and-mortar and call center operations.

To overcome this difficulty, retailers need a way to:

Leverage a single “golden version” of customer data and other data by automatically recognizing and resolving data duplicates and conflicts across multiple systems.

Create a holistic view of the customer by relating customer data to other information, such as products they own, retail channels they prefer and household relationships that can drive further sales.

MDM is all about creating complete and authoritative business views, including customer views. If you need to fully understand the value of each customer, MDM enables this by tracking key attributes and resolving data conflicts across data sources. If you want to ensure a consistent customer experience or engage in customer segmentation, MDM enables this as well by helping improve the quality of data and by synchronizing data across all its sources to eliminate inconsistencies.

[e] Key Benefits: (Use your information to improve customer experience)

Here are some specific ways that MDM can help retailers maintain a focus on the customer in today’s multi-channel, retail environment and the benefits that result.

  • Become customer-centric with a single, consistent view of each customer
  • Correlate data across channels for more effective engagement and cross-sell/up-sell
  • Tap into social sentiment to drive customer loyalty and sales
  • Operate more efficiently and economically
  • Master the data and master the market
  • Help increase the speed and number of new product introductions
  • Synchronize your data with your partners
  • Extend this information throughout your enterprise

[f] The Journey of MDM:

The Retail Organization must embark on the journey of setting up Master Data Management (MDM) to deliver meaningful ROI.

[g] Conclusion:

MDM is a complex process that can go on for a long time. Most organization regards it as an ongoing journey and not the final destination.

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