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Customer Master Data Management Best Practices

Aug 10, 2021

Learn about the essential components for getting the most use out of your customer master data management.

Data is an integral part of any successful business, and properly managing that data is essential to success. Not only does your data need to be accurate and up to date, but it also needs to be accessible when and where you need it.

Customer data, in particular, is what any client-facing business will rely on the most. It’s important to have your customer data organized and managed in a way that cuts down on noise and makes sense for your business.

This is where Master Data Management (MDM) comes in, and it can seem like a pretty daunting task at first.

What Is Customer Master Data Management?

MDM in this instance is essentially a system in which all your customer data is unified within a single centralized view that includes governance, compliance and security.

Chances are you already have an MDM system in place, probably using a software platform that makes accessing, sorting, and examining your data as simple as possible. If your business is not currently using an MDM, or if you’re still just using pen and paper to keep track of everything, resolving that should be your first order of business.

However, it’s important to optimize your MDM to get the most out of it, especially when it comes to customer data. Below, we’ll examine customer master data management best practices to ensure you’re getting the most from your MDM to make data-driven decisions.

Establish What a “Customer” Is

Ask your shipping manager and your accounts payable manager what a customer is, and you’ll probably get two different answers. To the shipping manager, a customer is an address. To the accounts payable person, a customer might just be an invoice.

This makes sense, because each department is working to satisfy the customer’s expectations and needs, which is going to mean something different for each of them. The customer, to them, is the benefactor of their work.

However, for data management purposes this simply won’t do. You need one definition for what makes a customer, because that’s how you’re going to sort and manage your customer data.

You need to find a way to define the attributes that are shared by all customers, and then unify those attributes for each one. That means a customer is made up of a name, an address, saved payment methods, a date of birth, an email address, etc.

The particulars will vary based on your business, but the idea remains the same. Unify those data points to create a single customer file that can then be sorted and searched by different parameters.

Identify, Locate, and Unify Customer Data

If you’re not already working with a good MDM for your customer data, chances are that things might be scattered at the moment.

When you’ve established your definition of what makes a “customer,” it’s time to hunt down all of those data points and unify them. Maybe the master address list is in shipping, and maybe the email addresses are being maintained by marketing or sales.

Figure out who is accessing and using which parameters, gather them all together, and then unify them into customer profiles. Then, keep those profiles stored in a location that can be accessed by anybody who needs them.

Secure Your Data

Everybody who works in your organization probably doesn’t need to have access to all your customer data.

Establishing security controls that restrict access to your customer database to only those who need it is a good idea. Data breaches affect businesses both big and small on a yearly basis, and many of those businesses simply never recover.

By running a tight ship with your customer data, you maintain control over who can access it and therefore mitigate the risk of that information being stolen or leaked on illicit channels.

Also, be sure to stay educated on your locality’s data governance and privacy laws that define how customer data must be handled and secured. For instance, California recently established the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that lists specific measures for customer privacy security measures and handling.

Regularly Update and Enrich Data

Customer information can become obsolete, so it’s important to establish a schedule for regular data refreshes. Some businesses do this annually, and some do it quarterly, but the important thing is that they do it.

Enlist Help with Your MDM

If you’ve been reading through this and worrying that maybe your MDM capabilities aren’t what they should be, that’s okay.

Getting a comprehensive and effective customer master data management system up and running in a sustainable way is a lot of work and something that can take years to achieve.

At Avensia, helping our clients with their MDM systems is one of our specialties. With our help, you’ll be able to maximize your customer data management efficiency in the following ways:

  • Create a 360-degree view of each customer
  • Unite customer insights with their online and offline experiences with your company
  • Boost your product and service relevance for potential and returning customers
  • Optimize conversions and increase sales
  • Eliminate time wasted on unoptimized data
  • Improve your branding and marketing power

Let's talk MDM strategy

If you or your business are looking to get the most out of your customer master data management, or if you don’t have an MDM system in place at all, we can help. We offer workshops for maximizing your PIM efficiency, strategy and consulting services, and we can even help you re-shape and build an entirely new PIM system using the latest in commerce technology.

Contact Avensia today and find out how we can take your business to the next level with our customer MDM expertise.