Billy Loizou: Aussie marketers struggling to ‘know’ customers because of messy data

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Billy Loizou: Aussie marketers struggling to ‘know’ customers because of messy data

By Billy Loizou, area vice president, Amperity


If you know your customers so well, then why do you keep treating them like strangers? It’s a conundrum marketers, brands and retailers face every day – and a challenge they are desperate to solve. In its simplest form, the issue stems from data or rather ‘dirty data’. This fragmented data is muddling their efforts to get a clear view of who their customers actually are.

Consider another incredibly common scenario: your brand just received a new online buyer called Victoria. You send her your welcome series. At the same time, another in-store customer called Vicky hasn’t purchased from you in four months, so you send her discounts persuading her to shop with you again. Here’s the kicker — Victoria and Vicky are the same person.

Not knowing your customer costs more than you think

The cost of not knowing your customer is high. More so than annoying customers with promotional emails for products they already own, blasting them with ads for clothing they don’t like, or placing them on hold for 45 minutes as a customer service representative tracks down their details when they want to return a pair of shoes; this disconnected view of the customer is impacting the bottom line – to the tune of AU$16 billion, in some cases.

According to the global Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2022, nearly 70% of APAC consumers feel as though customer service is an afterthought for businesses, 94% say they are willing to spend more with companies who personalise the customer service experience, and 71% reveal they would switch to a competitor after one bad customer service experience. Never has there been a more urgent need for brands to get to know their customers, truly and intimately, than now.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…

Customers provide businesses with a wealth of data — from loyalty programs, to transaction history and email engagement. But the tricky part is making sense of it and then putting it into action. Quality data fuels consumer business and opens the path to delivering personalised marketing experiences. However, companies can’t personalise campaigns when they don’t know who their customers are.

Customer data is inherently uncertain. Customers are not always consistent in how they identify themselves when they engage with a brand. They move through life, creating new emails, getting new phone numbers and sometimes even changing their names. At the same time, they or a store associate might enter typos when updating their information. What’s more, a brand’s best customers are more likely to have inconsistent and inaccurate Personal Identifiable Information (PII) because they interact with the brand more often, opening the door to potentially messier data.

Add technology overload, lack of communication between systems and algorithms that can’t predict human behaviour to the mix, and it’s clear why getting ID resolution right can be a real challenge for brands. Data is coming in from everywhere. Yet to achieve a single-customer view, that data has to first be combined from disparate sources, which requires building, maintaining and monitoring data pipes into and out of a centralised system.

Funny thing is, most systems like e-commerce, loyalty, mobile and point of sales weren’t designed to integrate with one another. Since they all use different data types and schema – and don’t share the same identifiers of individuals – it’s difficult to differentiate which purchaser is which. This means there’s no linking key, and therefore, no simple way to build a single view of the customer that includes all of their necessary information: who they are, what they purchase and the ways they interact with your business.

This is why identity (ID) resolution is so important — it turns scattered data into concrete customer information. And without it, it’s virtually impossible to treat your customers as the unique individuals they are.

What is ID resolution?

ID resolution is the process of connecting and matching different data points across multiple devices and channels to form a unified view of a single customer, allowing brands to connect the dots between fragmented data to form a complete picture of an actual person.The benefits of getting ID resolution right are the cornerstone to any organisation’s success:

  • Real-time insights: With an accurate customer data foundation, all departments across the company have the same access to customer information in real time. This access ensures the customer will have a seamless journey at every touchpoint, whether that’s in-store, online or with customer service.
  • Future-fit for a cookieless future: Even more, quality ID resolution prepares organisations for a cookie-less future by building a hearty, privacy-compliant, first-party data set, providing a buffer against increasingly strict privacy policies that limit the use of third-party data. With deeper customer relationships, brands can speak to their customers on the individual level, boosting customer loyalty and increasing lifetime value.
  • Improving performance and ROI: Smart segmentation allows brands to create highly targeted campaigns for specific customer segments, cutting down on redundancies. This gives brands the ability to react in real-time and effectively allocate budgets, cutting down on expenses.

First-class ID resolution software should be powered by machine learning (ML). With ML, match rates and accuracy improve over time even when unique identifiers are incomplete, inconsistent or unavailable. At the same time, ML-based ID resolution uses probabilistic data linking, allowing human-like logic to catch inconsistencies that more rigid matching schemas couldn’t process.

It’s also key for your ID resolution software to be transparent, providing a clear idea of the process. This builds trust and confidence versus ‘black-box’ processes that don’t show how an answer came about. ID resolution software should also provide a stable customer ID and allow for enterprise scalability – handling and resolving massive amounts of customer identities quickly and cost-effectively, regardless of the size of customer data volume.

Even more, the best solutions are flexible, allowing for simple updates and management and not ‘one size fits all’ to ensure they meet your unique business needs. Ultimately, the right ID resolution platform enables brands and organisations to take control of their customer data, systematically improve customer relationships, foster brand loyalty and win.