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How to align your organization around customer centricity: Put customer data at the center of your team

It happens so often that we’ve begun to expect it: A company is evaluating a customer data platform, but they’re struggling.

They want to join the data-driven marketing world, but their internal structure is weighed down with baggage.

This journey begins with a company or organization determining that they need to use their customer data to deliver smarter marketing. As companies see success from using their first-party customer data through a CDP like Lytics, more and more marketers see that there are more things they could do with their data, if only they could figure out how to make it actionable across their martech stack.

But getting this data organized and deployed in a way that reduces complexity for marketing isn’t easy. Internally, there can be challenges because of the tension between siloed groups who are wary of each other. And there isn’t one solution that will work for all organizations.

[New to Customer Data Platforms? Here's a Primer.]

Committing to a customer-centric culture starts with uniting teams around customer data

This kind of internal tension isn’t new. It’s the gulf that typically exists between the information technology side and the marketing side of an organization. The IT team might want to retain ownership and management of all customer data, doling it out in batches based on defined use cases, believing that marketers might not know how best to use it. At the same time, marketers might be frustrated when technical folks can’t deliver customer data in an easily consumable manner that works in all the tools they use in their day-to-day marketing operations.

‘Awkward’ is the word.

This is often the state of things when we come to the table, offering a customer data platform that could, if managed well, unite the two sides. Of course, it doesn’t just happen that way. At this stage, there is work to do, and many teams haven’t yet committed to making the organizational changes to their internal structure to help foster a collaborative, productive internal dynamic.

There's no one-size-fits-all to get to a customer-centric organization

The good news is this tension, if it exists, will ultimately help. That’s because it often makes it necessary to re-think the structure of the organization so it can become more customer-centric.

This sort of strategic reconsideration is the new normal for companies that want to thrive and grow. And as I said, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy here.

A well-designed organizational structure will give you and the teams clear guidelines about how to manage your customer data. A CDP like Lytics sits at the center of the martech stack and touches so many departments that understanding which one owns the technology, who they report and delegate work to, and how data will flow needs to be well-defined. Understanding which organizational structure will work the best, including roles and responsibilities, will ensure the programs run efficiently. When you organize customer data across channels, with decisions managed centrally, your organization can focus on delivering the most relevant and personalized campaigns.

"Center of Excellence:" A centralized group dedicated to uniting teams through best practices

For larger organizations, we often suggest a centralized, top-down, model. This approach brings together a new group with IT and marketing folks now on equal footing. This group is now in a position to distribute insights and key learnings. This structure, also known as a “hub and spoke” structure, is marked by centralized administrators who oversee the strategy and use of Lytics. They work with each department on campaigns and work to ensure the necessary data pipelines and audiences are designed and then pass these segments into the delivery tools managed by channel teams. This central team looking from the top down are often classified as a “Center of Excellence.”

Together, this team will map out an overview of the customer journey as they interact with marketing conversion points. Along the way, a customer data platform provides a map, so to speak, helping marketers track this journey, from content creation and design, through to email marketing and email and data insights. All this process makes sure that marketing campaigns are carried out in such a way that every experience is meaningful for each customer.

Decentralized teams united through a centralized customer data platform

There are other models. The decentralized structure is typically seen in early-stage organizations where resources are committed to distinct departments. This sometimes involves many people in the org becoming Lytics admins and serving the specific needs of their department, usually for one channel, such as email marketing. Still, the customer data is centralized in the Lytics CDP and accessible to multiple departments.

Business units that run independently, sharing predictive customer insights

Organizations with multiple business units or brands typically deploy the “dandelion” structure. It is a hub and spoke approach but centered around different business units. Depending on the organization, each BU may have their own central customer database, sharing data across the org depending on the strategic needs (e.g., geography, audiences, business type).

But before organizations go out and create new internal entities and processes, it can help to remember that guiding light, the customers. The next steps aren’t always obvious. All types of teams need to first collaborate and determine their best—or at least best-bet— practices.

Customer-centricity depends on the intelligence you get only from a CDP

The bottom line is if everyone involved commits to a shared goal of orienting their work – including the disquieting notion of joining hands with those from across the business – around the needs of their customers. A CDP is the enabling technology to deliver on the promise of marketing and IT working together to become more data-driven, customer-centric organization. With these changes, they will then be readily able to focus on intelligence that drives personalized marketing that is relevant and meaningful to their customers.

If you want to know more about how a CDP can make your marketing more customer-centric, we’d love to schedule a demo. And if you’re interested in real-world results, check out our stories of customer success.

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