The Big D’s – The Two Keys That Make or Break a Customer Initiative

block-d.jpg  After years of working on “customer” projects it always seems to be the same two “keys” that get a project to show results quickly, or force us into endless meetings to discuss these two mysterious “keys.”  With all the thoughtful strategy, market analysis, and product development that happens around “customer” projects you will hit a wall if you don’t deal with these two items up front and with painstaking detail. 

Can you guess what “D Keys” I’m talking about?  Here they are:

  • Definitions
  • Data

Think about it.  If the people in your organization don’t agree on the definitions of the words you use, and don’t trust the data you use to define those terms, you’re bound to have a bit of mess on your hands.

For example, ask your colleagues to define these terms for your organization and see if you all agree:

  • New customer
  • Retained customer
  • Loyal customer 
  • Lost customer

I recently had fun with a credit union as we looked at data for closed accounts.  As we dove deeper into the data we had to reconcile what a member (customer) really is.  When we say member do we mean a household, an account, or a share?

Which takes us to the second D – data.  Once you have defined your terms, what are the sources of the data you are using to measure those terms or types of customers?  Do you have a single source for data, or do you rely on multiple data sources to give you a complete view of your customer?  If you have multiple sources of data, is each field defined the same?  In the credit union example, one data source was stored as household information, the other data source had it stored as accounts (a household can have more than one account…).  If all the people trying to work on this project didn’t realize this, we would be talking different languages.

I know this may be basic for some of you, but time and again, and to this day, I come across these Big D’s constantly.  If you don’t know to look for them, you can go pretty far into a project before you have to back-track and deal with them.  So deal with these Big D’s before you get a double dose of disaster. (OK, enough with the D’s)


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