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Creating a Unified Customer Profile Should Follow Simple Rules

Kris Tomes | February 20, 2018

unified-customer-profile-rulesEditor’s Note: For a refresher on what a unified customer profile is, click here.

The idea of a unified customer profile is appealing to the modern marketer, who must contend with “always-on” consumers that are unwilling to accept less-than-stellar customer experiences. Using a unified customer profile to drive insight and customer actions often lead to better experiences for the customer.

Acknowledging the value of a unified customer profile, however, is different from creating one. Building a unified customer profile requires choosing pertinent data elements from multiple data sources and systematically combining them into a single record. You can purchase solutions to aid in the process of creating the unified customer profile, and in fact we take pride in how well we accomplish this task, but it’s still necessary for the data owner – your enterprise – to correctly identify the required fields and apply appropriate business rules.

And that’s often a challenge in most organizations, largely because of the high variance in business rules. Every organization has its own needs and goals, and each will decide different data qualities are important to building a unified customer profile for their business. The most important step to achieving a unified customer profile is organization-wide agreement – there must be consensus on the rules and elements that create a unified customer profile.

Business rules are generally based on factors such as:

  • Recency
  • Completeness
  • Source Priority
  • Adherence to Data Quality Rules
  • Aggregated Calculations

A word of caution: Setting these rules can introduce immense complexity into your process, especially when trying to account for edge cases. Trying to account for all possibilities can quickly turn the process of creating a unified customer profile into an unwieldy morass of conflicting priorities and confusing data. For this reason, I strongly advocate for simplicity in business rules. In all the years of creating unified customer profiles for businesses, here at RedPoint Global, we find that simple, straight-forward, easily understood business rules give the best results.

The more simple and straight-forward business rules are, the easier it is to build organizational consensus. Simple business rules make it easier to achieve buy-in between technical and non-technical personnel. Additionally, simple business rules are more easily implemented and maintained.

A final consideration – complex business rules are almost always created to manage edge cases. Reducing edge case exceptions is a good thing, but the resulting additional complexity often creates fragile systems that are subject to unpredictable errors in the future. There’s no realistic way to account for every possible edge case, so it’s better to streamline your business rules and make it easier – not harder – to find the data for a unified customer profile.

Creating a unified customer profile is a complex, time-intensive proposition. Defining complex rules that attempt to account for all possibilities only adds to your challenges, and, given the importance of a unified customer profile, that isn’t really something you want to do. If you truly wish to craft such a single source of truth from your data, then you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to devise simple, easy-to-understand (and manage) business rules.

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Kris Tomes
Kris Tomes

As a senior solution architect for RedPoint Global, Kris Tomes leverages nearly 20 years of business and technology expertise to scope out business requirements and technical designs for RedPoint customers to ensure they solve their data-driven business problems quickly and efficiently.