A Moment in Time: The Hard Truth About Your Customer Data

A Moment in Time: The Hard Truth About Your Customer Data

time clock close up

You can meticulously cover every detail of the customer that you think you will ever need—company size, decision-makers, industry, specialization, birthdays, pet names . . . and the list goes on. But there’s something lurking behind these numbers that you’re missing.

The missing link? Time.

One of the most essential aspects of your customer your CRM doesn’t track is time. Over time contacts change, companies shift and rebrand, messaging morphs, and revenue fluctuates and none of these change records your CRM captures automatically because that critical change record is missing. Your team needs that critical information as part of the customer record within their CRM to unlock the ability to know what the right time is to engage during the buyer’s journey, predict upcoming revenue cycles, and how to further build the relationship with their customers.  

Understanding Why Your Customer Picture is Fragmented

broken picture frame glass

It’s understandably hard to hear your customer data is incomplete, especially if you account for the effort undertaken to input all that data. It’s not simply that what you’re entering into your CRM is incorrect, it’s a matter that none of that data is understood within the added element of time—it’s not “time-aware.” 

Without the element of time, you can only see the picture within the context of right now. It’s a single freezeframe of the customer rather than the entire journey from lead to customer. A more apt way of thinking about this is that it’s like trying to understand the entire plot of a movie from its promotional poster. You may be able to make a few educated guesses, but the probability of knowing the entire story is impossible because there isn’t enough information. It seems almost ironic that CRMs were meant to help save time but, in the end, most CRMs leave out that critical element from their systems together.

The result is data that is irrelevant to any other period aside from right now and limits the ability for your teams to accurately understand the customer, or make predictions, or learn from past data. Data is a critical element within organizations but without the aspect of time, it only can provide a fragmented view of your customers. Companies attempt to overcome this hurdle with business intelligence systems that rely on data scientists to extrapolate insights from the data. Not only is that expensive, but it fails to provide timely insight to the frontline employees that need this information the most. Simply, the fragmented customer view prohibits your organization from growth and it also blocks what could be a successful customer experience strategy.


Why You Need a Time-Aware Picture

team learning from data

Time is an essential variable when it comes to data because it allows relevant context. For example, if you read an essay on the virtues of cigarettes, it is extremely helpful to note that it was written in the 1940s as part of an advertising campaign. You could apply the same idea to lead paint, smallpox, and numerous other once accepted ideas that have since been proven wrong. This is all to say that time is an essential aspect of understanding data contextually. If companies were to base their revenue projections on 2019 data instead of 2020, there would be a large gulf because the world economy has changed.

On that note, it’s important to think about where we are currently and how companies adjust to the economic trends. A company that has been in business for 20 years has the historical data to understand how their customers reacted in the Great Recession to better understand how they are currently acting in this time of economic uncertainty. The thing is, your CRM won’t do this comparison for you because it lacks the ability to hold that time-aware customer data. Your organization’s balance sheet may indicate the change between financial years but that only provides generic data rather than targeted customer-to-customer data. Learning what customers grew and what customers contracted during a given period allows you to better adapt and provide—ultimately, impacting your customer experience strategy.

Understanding time is an essential part of interpreting customer data. 


The Power of a High-Fidelity Customer View

Realizing the relationship between time and data is more relevant than simply how you can understand your ideal customer or year-over-year business revenue change. A time-aware view of customers brings a high-fidelity view of your business portfolio, providing clarity not only to your board and executives but it also provides a healthy boost to your marketing, sales, and customer service departments. From the gleaned data, these departments can not only understand the customer, they can learn how to better target account-based marketing campaigns, insert appropriate cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and identify common pain points.

As someone who begins their day looking at numbers, this high-fidelity view of customers allows for a better understanding of where we are as a company and where improvements need to be made. Without this detailed customer view, not only does my job at highlighting where more attention is needed become exceedingly more difficult, but it also requires more time and continual analysis on my part that truly doesn’t provide a view for me beyond the information supplied by my team.

Through this high-definition view of customers, we can more appropriately understand next best action, customer behavior patterns, and closely monitor for the right cues to create the perfect solution for customers. 

customer in focus

But it doesn’t stop with sales. 

Marketing is able to provide better leads because they understand more about the customer than ever before. Tactics, such as content or targeted advertising, become stronger and convert more leads ultimately providing a better experience for customers and better opportunities for the sales team to land and expand. 

Customer service is able to quantify historical context to provide better communication to customers, how they address problems that the customer-facing, and the ability to provide a better customer experience by learning from the data provided by sales.

These only scratch the surface of what a high-fidelity customer view can provide for organizations because it ripples across an organization from customer-facing teams to internal support. Since everyone within a company is responsible for furthering your CX strategy, these insights are invaluable and provide a stable and comprehensive experience for customers throughout their buying journey. 

You need a full high-definition picture of the customer that must be achieved time-aware analysis of your data. Without this high-fidelity customer picture, not only are you placing your CX strategy at risk but also the revenue and, ultimately, the future of your company.

Jason Rushforth
Jason Rushforth As GM, Americas, Jason Rushforth brings more than 20 years of product and SaaS experience to Sugar—all of it in CRM and CX. He is a respected technology industry veteran; his most recent role as VP and GM for Infor saw him implementing the vision and execution of their Customer Experience suite of solutions. Prior to Infor, Jason was VP of Industry Solutions and Enterprise Sales at Oracle, where he joined via the acquisition of Eloqua and was responsible for top-line revenue growth of the $750B Marketing Cloud. He served Eloqua as the GM of Industry Solutions and drove the go-to-market strategy for specific applications, resulting in a 1B+ sale to Oracle. Jason was also President of Front Office Solutions at CDC Software (now Aptean), and on the board of directors for Marketbright (now Act-On). Armed with years of knowledge in building out both MarTech and CRM stacks, Jason is a subject matter expert in the discipline of customer service, with thousands of speaking engagements under his belt. He is passionate about education and thought leadership, and energized to build relationships with customers, analysts, and prospects. As the newest member of the Sugar executive team, Jason sees great things in the company’s future, particularly with the Sugar Discover and Market products, which allow for other innovative capabilities to be easily implemented to create customers for life.

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