In recent years, leading brands have focused on consumer data acquisition. After all, the more information collected, the better you know your customer and the better you’re able to serve her. But merely amassing data isn’t enough, and neglecting the proper management of data can create a host of trust issues, as well moral and legal problems, many with significant fines and loss of brand equity.
 
Loyalty 360’s Mark Johnson recently spoke with Ed Wolf, Head of Sales for Zylotech, on ways to address these very real concerns. Zylotech, a Loyalty360 member, is a self-learning customer data and analytics platform that enables brands to cross-sell / up-sell to their customers.

 
Several industry leaders have indicated that data silos present a challenge. Is that something you’ve encountered as well?
 
Totally, and one thing we’re hearing too is—we’re talking with a lot of luxury brands who have always prided themselves on knowing the customer a bit better than a target or something like that. But even companies like that are finding that lack of data, the thing the prevents the ability to engender more loyalty, but maybe one of the causes of it is just that the customers themselves being so inundated with communications emails and offers, most of which are not targeted or personalized or well thought out, really.
 
So, what ends up happening is there’s some kind of fatigue that sets in a part of the customer. They’re quicker to get upset, quicker to drop a brand or quicker to think less of a brand. Let’s use a made-up example:
 
Someone brings in a Coach handbag for repair. They’ve probably spent multiple thousands of dollars on this one handbag. The fact that they need to bring it in for repair is enough of a potential flag that their thought of the brand might not be at its apex. So, when that customer then gets an email from Coach or whoever, saying “Hey, would you like to purchase this accessory?” and they got that email, mistakenly maybe, because the marketing group didn’t know the customer service team had a call about this repair. That does potential brand damage to these companies. They’re very, very cognizant of it.
 
Phrases like “disparate silos” are clichés because they’re problems that are only getting worse. It’s something that the people we talk to are feeling. It’s painful to them.
 
What has your brand done lately to help clients improve customer loyalty?
 
What we do in particular is help brands first with unification of their customer data. Part of what Zylotech’s product does is use AI and machine learning to pull together different sources of data so we can identify specific customers across all those various channels and make sure that brand knows that the Ed Wolf who purchased online is the same as the Edward Wolf who came in the store and that both of those are the same as the [email protected] who’s a loyalty member. We clean up that data. We unify it. What we also do is we enrich that data with third-party and web data. Things like product reviews, individual customer demographics, and household information, things like that.
 
Once we’ve unified data, enriched it, and identified different channels, that gives clients a foundation so they can successfully either implement or continue to use a loyalty program that’s already been implemented. We use the analogy of a house; if you have a weak foundation, then the house will be shaky. If you have a strong foundation—strong data—then the house will be great.
 
With customer analytics and customer loyalty, what we always say is that our brands’ and our clients’ customers should understand them. That’s what every customer wants. You don’t want a mass email that’s got nothing to do with you and completely irrelevant to where you are with the brand. When you get an email from company X, you want to feel like they know you; they get where you are. They’re sending you something because it makes sense to receive this message now.
 
Without the proper data to build that emotionally intelligent communication, that’s really difficult to do. That’s the net result or output of that solid data foundation.
 
In light of new regulations, what data management strategies do you advise your clients to adopt?
 
It’s not necessarily a fun part of marketing or a sexy part of analytics, but it really does come down to the cleanliness and health of that data. We work with a lot of global customers here, Europe, Asia, wherever. When you need to be GDPR compliant, it becomes more important than ever that you’re aware of every customer, that you’re aware of exactly what they’ve accepted or not, in terms of your ability to contact them. Everybody who needs to in marketing and sales, whatever that might be, has that information and all the systems that you may be using. You have to consider how all the customer data synchs up, in that regard.
 
We’re categorized as a customer data platform (CDP). The ascendency of CDPs—they’re not so new, but the category has become hot—is because what we and other CDPs offer is the ability for companies to tame all their data and have it so that for every customer, you know exactly what they’ve done, what their behaviors been, what their preferences are, and then even more importantly, what we predict that they will do in the future.
 
Now, when it comes to that data privacy portion, you need to have the “golden record.” If customer Joe Smith has opted out of all communications and doesn’t want to be contacted, it’s now more important than ever that this is followed and maintained across all the different systems that a company has. One way of doing that is to use a CDP or at least some kind of centralized platform that brings together all the different silos of data, so that you know the Joe Smith that opted out is the same Joseph Smith that may have bought something three years ago and is on a different list.
 
It becomes very crucial. These brands will start getting lots of fines. Regulation can make a big impact, in that sense.
 
Conclusion
 
Our interview with Ed Wolf has several repercussions for companies operating in the customer loyalty space. First, brands need to stop contributing to customer fatigue. Mass emails do very little towards getting customers to come back to a brand, at least in part because every single company sends every customer hundreds and hundreds of emails. In addition, brands need to work to unify customer data by employing strategies and technology that are capable of handling this problem. Lastly, brands need to listen to their customers and personalize communications to their requests, including not sending communications at all. Doing so will be the only way to adhere to new, stricter regulations.

To listen to [Podcast] Zylotech Unifies Data Silos, click here.

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