Data-Driven CX: Starting Outside the Tech Stack

Purchases, website visits, apps, and social media posts barely scratch the surface of the data that we generate as consumers. Given the volume, variety, and granularity of data available today, businesses can know who we are, what we value, and what we need from products and services – at times better than we know ourselves. Data and customer experience (CX) are indisputably linked: 98 percent of marketers agree that personalization strengthens customer relationships.

Yet, many organizations are not primed to unlock the promise of CX differentiation with data. In fact, between 60 and 73 percent of all enterprise data goes unused for analytics. To cut through the clutter of an increasingly complex and ever-evolving data landscape, the answer does not begin with yet another technology tool or siloed functional initiative. Instead, leaders should first realign on the fundamental purpose behind their analytics efforts: the customer.

By taking a holistic view of data gathered across a customer’s end-to-end journey with a brand, companies can extract the insights to target customers and deliver unique, compelling, and personalized experiences. These experiences ultimately enable happier, more satisfied customers along with sustained differentiation and growth. With our research showing 70 percent of business leaders strongly believe that CX efforts impact enterprise financial performance, there’s a bottom-line upside for organizations that crack the code on CX.

Developing a Data-Driven CX Strategy

While there’s consensus that CX drives business performance, data can be an obstacle to experience differentiation. For many organizations, functionally siloed perspectives on the customer journey are an impediment to the “one customer thinking” that’s required for a data-driven customer experience. Before companies begin to address their data, they must first align around what data is collected or consumed, how that data is collected or consumed, and where the data is stored.

Utilizing a customer data blueprint allows businesses to gain a deeper understanding of the complex data flows that support all the interactions a customer has with a product or service. The blueprint visually articulates high-level interactions, data that is created or consumed at that interaction, and how the data flows through the environment. The blueprint also showcases the interdependencies of various databases within the ecosystem.

Core to the customer data blueprint is documenting and categorizing customer data that is created or consumed at each interaction. Customer data can be clustered into four categories:

  • Descriptive: Demographics, e.g. gender, age, income

  • Behavioral: Reflective of a pattern a customer exhibits when interacting with the company

  • Interactive: How a customer engages with a digital product, e.g. navigation paths

  • Attitudinal: A customer’s sentiment or opinion


With an aligned understanding of the data ecosystem, organizations can then craft their data-driven CX strategy by first assessing customer interactions from an experiential perspective to understand the role that data is currently playing, as well as the potential role data can play, in delivering personal and relevant experiences. Once these opportunity areas have been defined, organizations can then design data-driven interactions, prioritize these interactions by applying the criteria of desirability, viability, and feasibility, and use a roadmap tool to plan the deployment of these designs. This final set of activities completes the strategy.

Key Enablers of a Data-Driven Customer Experience

Critical to executing the strategy is ensuring that your data can be accessed, analyzed, and activated in a way that delivers the desired experiences. In action steps, how can you configure your data to accomplish this?

  1. Consolidate and clean data. With data coming into your environment from an array of sources, it is imperative that it is consolidated into a central repository where it can be cleaned, analyzed, and activated. Use APIs to enable rapid exchange of data, apply de-duping and identity services to clean data, and lastly enrich the data with third-party sources to enable a more holistic understanding of your customer.

  2. Make data accessible. Ensure that valuable customer data is accessible to all applications in a timely and unrestricted manner. Arm sales and marketing agents with the data to enable more personalized and relevant interactions in every customer touchpoint.

  3. Double-down on data governance. With regulations like GDPR and CCPA emerging as additional considerations, it’s critical that organizations implement a governance model for controlling data publication and ensuring that data remains clean. Minimize situations where there are multiple instances of customer data and focus on formalizing policies for how it is accessed and stored.

Using data to enhance CX cannot be resolved with tools and technology alone. The path to experience differentiation starts with a singular view of the customer across the organization. With one-customer thinking at the foundation, businesses can build a connected picture of data captured in each customer interaction, an understanding of how that data is being used to enhance experience, and a perspective on where gaps exist. By using this view to guide customer enhancements, activities, and investments, organizations will pave a clear path to CX leadership that maximizes value at the intersection of customer value and business needs.