Customer Data Solutions Are Too Complex
For all their virtues, a common complaint about customer data platforms (CDPs) and CRM systems is the prolonged training times that these technologies require in order to realize their benefits. The most valuable capabilities on these platforms are in many cases only accessible to those technicians that have acquired hard-won skills and mastered their complexities.
Digital marketing platforms should make experiences more streamlined, intuitive and actually facilitate the business of the user. Too often, learning the ins and outs of the platform can take over that business. When design and interface are too difficult to understand and navigate, many of the most important features of modern customer data and relationship platforms can lie fallow.
Marketers should select systems not for how many features they have, but for their simplicity, integration and intuitiveness. Most people don’t want to read help manuals or go to training classes. They would rather stumble around until they either figure out the essentials or give up on some of the features altogether.
Like other software, platforms for collecting and harnessing customer data exist along a whole spectrum of complexity and capabilities. Some questions to consider when selecting a CRM, CDP or customer engagement platform include the following:
- Is it easy to use? Will its complexity intimidate your staff? It’s not hard to find businesses that spent a lot of money on a CRM platform but were so intimidated by it that they reverted to Excel spreadsheets.
- How much training time is required to get started? How much training time is required to become competent and effective? Banish the word “power user.” That’s like fluency in a foreign language, and a completely unhelpful gauge of the effectiveness of technology. In order to provide value, the key features of a technology platform must be accessible to somebody within a reasonable amount of ramp-up time.
- Are features of the technology integrated with one another? In other words, are lots of downloads and uploads required to move from marketing functionality to functionality? Note, I used the word “marketing,” not “platform.” These platforms are designed to improve your marketing program and build relationships with your customers. The platform isn't an end in itself, and should never be treated as such.
- How intuitive is it to use? Do things happen the way you think they will so that you can operate the platform without a manual at your side? Apple has always stressed intuition in the design of its software and it was the first not to include a manual with its computers. Why bother when it won’t be read and they’re so easy to use?
- Most important, how long does it take to get value from the platform? Can you find it the first day you use it? The best platforms will quickly reveal their value because you'll be able to do things right away that you couldn't do before. Some examples include quick customer segmentations that took a lot of data manipulation before, analytics of customer responses that previously required complex tabulations, or the ability to immediately respond to NPS rankings.
As with many things in business, the lessons of Occam’s Razor or Dilbert apply: simpler is better. With the customer data landscape changing rapidly in light of technology and privacy developments, the software that will help marketers and brands succeed needs to be intuitive as well as powerful. With economic uncertainty and consumer behavior at scale still in flux, the companies that flourish will be the ones that can readily harness their data to build lasting relationships.
Jon Stamell is the CEO of Oomiji, the first predictive, conversation-enabled customer data platform.