Put Customers at the Center of Your Data Strategy

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Explain how putting the customer first helps drive your data strategy and architecture.
  • Describe what a customer journey is.
  • Define what touchpoints are in a customer journey.

Engage Customers Through a Thoughtful Data Strategy

Engaging your customers and delivering experiences that they expect requires empathy and a thoughtful approach to your data strategy. A well-formed data strategy can help you achieve a few specific goals. For example:

  • Getting a 360-degree understanding of your customers
  • Fine-tuning your product line and services to meet customers’ needs
  • Improving your customer service experience

When you develop your data strategy with your customers front and center, you can improve the experiences they have with your company, and keep them coming back for more. Your data strategy ultimately drives your data architecture. But what is data architecture? Well, it defines:

  • What data your company processes and collects.
  • How your company stores that data.
  • How the data moves throughout your organization.

An effective data architecture formalizes your company’s approach to managing the flow of customer data. We’re talking about the flow among your departments, such as IT and Sales, and the applications that your organization relies on, such as a CRM system and an automated marketing program.

Think of your data architecture as the glue that binds your company’s business strategy to its technical execution.

Blaze Your Trail with Salesforce

Data architecture efforts can require a lot of time, money, and people. Even after all the effort, the end result can fall short of your goals. But Salesforce has experience that you can benefit from. In this module, we share our best practices for data architecture planning and prioritization. We’re eager to tell you about them, because we want to help your business thrive!

Most organizations today start by looking at the tools and technologies that are available to them. Our data architects recommend a different approach when beginning your adventure in data architecture planning. Maybe you’ve heard us say, “Put the customer at the center of all you do.” It turns out that that approach works beautifully when planning your data architecture.

At Salesforce, we’ve learned that taking a customer-centric approach helps us:

Drive business value
That way, we keep big planning projects in scope. So we stay focused on our goals and reduce time spent on unfruitful efforts.
Avoid gaps
When we know how our customers interact with our company and brand, we can avoid choppy handoffs and missed opportunities in the customer experience.
Prioritize our data architecture
Our best decisions come from helping customers experience seamless and delightful interactions with our brand and products. Our data architecture guides our choices to effectively and continuously deliver delight to our customers.

When you put customers at the center of your data architecture, you keep IT delivery focused and strategic. You also get measurable outcomes and impacts. What’s great about this approach is that you can plan and implement your architecture in an integrated, iterative manner.

Choose a Starting Point

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in the customer-centric approach.

Meet Pia Larson. She’s an enterprise architect at Northern Trail Outfitters (NTO), a national sporting goods chain. She has bandwidth to take on a new project, and she knows just where she wants to put her time. For a while, Pia has been thinking of ways to better position the company to retain the customers it already serves and attract new ones.

NTO is working hard at putting the customer first, but Pia suspects that the company's established architecture doesn't reflect a customer-centric approach. For her project, she plans to do her best to put herself in her customers’ shoes. Pia also wants to encourage other stakeholders to do the same. That way, they all can get a handle on their customers’ pain points.

To kick off the project, Pia schedules meetings with the following stakeholders.

Stakeholder Title What the Stakeholder Wants
Felix Ayaso Director, Customer Service Felix wants to increase the efficiency and productivity of his service agents. He also wants to give them opportunities to upsell their products and services.
Ruthanne Chung Vice President, Marketing Ruthanne wants to use online ads to increase ecommerce traffic and generate higher revenue.
E.J. Deets Senior Director, Commerce E.J. and her team are clamoring to use artificial intelligence to provide better product recommendations.

Pia has productive discussions, gathering lots of info from Felix, Ruthanne, and E.J. Next, Pia focuses on the customer, or more specifically, the customer journey. She brushes up on what she already knows about this topic by earning the Customer Journey Basics badge on Trailhead, linked in this unit’s Resources section. Let’s review a few important points she learns.

Pia Evolves!

Pia learns that customer journeys are a visual representation of the ways in which your customers interact with your company. Specifically, they show a customer’s experiences with your company over time.

For example, the journey can capture how your customer:

  • Becomes aware of your products and services.
  • Places an order.
  • Learns more about your company’s brand and offerings.
  • Talks to a service agent about returning an item.
  • Buys products and services from your company again and again.

Pia draws it out on her board.

Pia’s images that represent Aware, Acquire, Onboard, Engage, and Retain and Expand

If this flow of events sounds familiar, that’s because journeys are meant to represent a customer experience that lots of us can identify with.

Pia learns an industry term for the experiences (or events) that she can capture in a journey. They’re called touchpoints. Let’s look at some common touchpoints to get you thinking about the ones that apply to your company.

  • Clicking an online ad
  • Reading a targeted email message
  • Purchasing an item from your company’s website
  • Returning an item in your store
  • Calling a service agent
  • Downloading a whitepaper
  • Redeeming a coupon for your company’s product or service

Each of these touchpoints is an opportunity to learn from a customer’s experiences. Touchpoints give us insights for offering more personalization and ways to delight customers. Also, while touchpoints represent common customer actions or experiences, the way that customers interact with them can be different.

Customers can interact with some or all touchpoints at any time and in any order using any channel available to them. Some of those channels include brick-and-mortar stores, your company’s websites, social media sites, and direct mailings. The combinations are limitless. Pia sees that the journey isn’t the same for every customer.

Now that Pia knows how a customer journey can help drive her data architecture efforts, she’s pretty stoked about creating one for NTO.

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