• October 1, 2013
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Manage Data or Be Managed by It

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Making the most of customer and company data has been the purpose of CRM technology since its inception. The difference between then and now, though, is how much more sophisticated the industry is at leveraging information.

The latest level of sophistication couldn't have come at a better time, as the rate at which data is being created on the Internet and social media is mind-boggling. To put this in perspective, Denis Pombriant, in his column "CRM and Knowledge," states, "By World War II, knowledge was doubling every twenty-five years; IBM now predicts that within the next couple of years, it will be doubling every twelve hours." Naturally, organizations should take a serious look at how they are managing their data.

Customer service reps, for example, shouldn't waste time sifting through documents to find the answer to a customer's unique question. Similarly, customers can't be bothered with automated self-help tools and FAQs that are Google-like in their search results. The results must be fast and return only the most relevant information. As customers become more technology-dependent, their needs will become more sophisticated. And, as the feature story "CRM and Knowledge Management: Balancing Information and Insight" suggests, without merging knowledge management and CRM tools, corporations will find it harder to cost-effectively support these customers.

Elsewhere in the enterprise, the ability to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time requires a more exacting approach for marketers than ever before. They no longer solely rely on slow-changing demographic data or purchase history to do this. Instead, progressive marketers also rely on online behavioral data to retarget, or serve ads to, consumers who have already visited an advertiser's Web page. According to the cover story, "Digital Advertising Gets Personal," by Associate Editor Maria Minsker, this marketing approach "has the highest conversion rates of any form of ad display by far."

Customer service reps and marketers aren't the only ones who stand to benefit from intelligent uses of information. Companies are getting so sophisticated with what they can do with data that some are turning customers' voices into information that can be captured and analyzed for security purposes. Using voice biometrics, a customer's voice can serve as his password, effectively shortening the identification and verification process, while increasing data protection and improving the customer experience.

Unfortunately, though, the uptake has been slow. In the feature story "Voice Biometrics Builds a Business Case," by News Editor Leonard Klie, one industry analyst estimates that only about 20 percent of the world's call centers currently use voice biometrics to verify the identity of callers. That means the majority of contact centers rely on more cumbersome identification and verification methods, including passwords, personal identification numbers, or security questions. High cost, long implementation times, and low effectiveness are some of the biggest obstacles that voice biometrics technology has had to overcome. But, fortunately, many of these barriers have been lowered and the technology, according to the same analyst in the story, is "just starting to take off."

These articles provide a few good examples of how organizations can better manage the surge of data that is hitting them at every customer touch point. Companies can either learn from these stories and manage their data or drown in a sea of it.

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