Where the Heck is my Customer Information? | Flowlens - Modular Small Business CRM & ERP

Where the Heck is my Customer Information?

by Rich Dale

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Data Silos are Restricting your Growth. Do Something About It!

You’ve got a killer product, surging demand, and a world class team, but can your customer data stick the pace? Or will it hamper growth, innovation and your competitive edge?

Smart businesses understand the value of gathering, processing and leveraging customer data. This data needs to be joined up, and available on a common platform, to become useful information for smart decision making and exemplary customer service.

This is called Customer Lifecycle Management. Uniting processes across the business, with timely, relevant information.


Silo Data, Silo Thinking

If your teams can’t easily share useful customer information, what does that say about their capacity to serve customers, or respond to changing demands?

These silos come about easily, as data management is hardly the top priority when stretched resources must cope with customer, production and service demands. Ad hoc methods, usually based in spreadsheets, suited the available time, resources and departmental needs, without considering about the bigger, long term picture.

Left unchecked, this scenario will become a drag on the organisation. People at all levels spend their time manually gathering and processing customer data, which is soon out of date, and they have to start over again next month! The opportunity costs are difficult to calculate, but the risks associated with poor ‘information efficiency’ are huge.

Your customer experience is another major casualty, with a lack of joined-up data revealing itself in inconsistent communications, delays in service and ultimately, lost business.


What to do about it?

Restructuring your business information systems might seem like you’re trying to redesign an aircraft whilst it’s in flight. Fear not. With the correct methodology, linked to your company objectives, it is practical to implement a managed transition to a joined-up, streamlined real-time customer lifecycle management system.


What are your business priorities?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, however by pinpointing the primary issues, or strategic drivers, you can quickly identify priorities. Often these will be in the areas of Sales, Production, or Customer After-Sales Support/Service, where crucial customer data is created and updated every day. Focusing on the core business priorities should bring fast and obvious improvements, but also help the team see their role in the bigger picture.


Is your whole team aligned around the customer lifecycle?

Often, company teams and departments use different terminology for the same thing, confusing for colleagues, and even worse for customers! Your company goals should drive all activities. Common terminology and data that aligns with these goals, instead of departmental silos, will enable people across the business to get ‘out of their box’, and understand the end-to-end nature of operations.


Simple Lifecycle Diagram

By first aligning the team under the goal of a shared business information resource, you will create the mandate for change. The benefits should also be clear. Better information will aid performance, it will help teams and individuals achieve their targets, it will help the company innovate faster, and most importantly, it will bring the customer closer.

Are your processes generating the right data?

With manual systems and spreadsheets, it’s tempting to add a few more fields to a form, or columns to a sheet, without considering the operational and management need for information. This incrementally increases the time people spend creating and maintaining data, instead of meeting their goals.

Instead, consider how the operations of the business will trigger information to be created and updated.

  • Does your sales team capture data that improves onboarding of new customers?
  • Does your Marketing department use sales pipeline data to refine lead generation techniques?
  • Do you customers have access to information and services without needing to call you?
  • Is everything you know about a customer available in one place?
  • Can you field service team gather information that could create new leads in the future?
  • Do you have real-time access to information from key business processes?
  • A Customer Lifecycle Management solution, such a Flowlens, supports your business and customer processes to achieve these outcomes. These outputs should become the natural, real-time, output that is the heartbeat of your organisation, without getting in peoples’ way. And, all this information is available to management in real-time.

Outcomes

The confidence that reliable, up-to-date information brings can not be underestimated. Decisions can be made, and opportunities seized.

Your customer data is now a valuable competitive resource, captured as your people, products and services help customers solve problems. This can drive insights into customer behaviours, product performance, partners, and much more that ensure you can keep building upon the value, and bring your customers closer.

Businesses that want to be successful, and get closer to their customers, with timely, accurate and relevant information, embrace the CLM process.

Smart businesses will go one step beyond, processing their customer data to make predictions based on customer data, helping to predict financial outcomes of behavioural changes, product launches, changes to pricing and marketing channels and many other factors.

Rich Dale

Rich leads the Flowlens team, developing a beautifully simple, yet powerfully integrated ERP and CRM system for small businesses.

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