Only 38% of the 425 customer data executives “strongly agreed” when asked if they knew where all of their company’s customer data is stored. The survey of director-level or higher executives responsible for customer data management decisions was conducted by Forrester for Deloitte to evaluate how companies are managing their customer experience data. It found inadequate data management was a central theme, with just 5.6% of survey respondents scoring a “4” or higher on a 1 to 5 scale measuring data management maturity.

Privacy is top of mind for customers, but companies struggle to manage consent. Ninety-one percent of the survey respondents identified as leaders in data management said that data privacy was a top concern of their customers, but just 37% of this group said they had the ability to handle consent across the customer journey. Not being able to accurately manage consent is a key issue when trying to meet customer expectations around data privacy.

Lack of data limits personalization capabilities. While companies report data privacy is a top concern for customers, 88% of the survey participants also reported that their customers expect personalized omnichannel experiences from the brand — but few companies have the necessary data to create seamless, personalized experiences.

Only 35% of the executives from the top-performing customer data management organizations reported they had the ability to accurately track customer journeys in an omnichannel experience or had high-quality data on their customers. Less than a quarter from this group (24%) said they were able to conduct real-time analysis on their customers.

The numbers show a major disconnect between what customers want and the data available to make it happen.

Top performers are moving data management in-house. To remedy the the lack of accessible data, Forrester reports many organizations plan to move their data management in-house. Over the next two years, “fully outsourced” data management will drop by 48%, reports Forrester — meaning more companies are taking ownership of the full scope of their customer data.

A senior marketing VP at a retail organization who was interviewed as part of the Forrester report cited a lack of transparency from data vendors. “They [data vendors] don’t want us to know the customers that easy. They just want to give them to us in a way that we can’t identify them … because they want us to pay for the information.”

When looking at the top performers among the customer data management professionals, 73% have brought their data management initiatives in-house, compared to 58% of the companies labeled as “laggards.”

Why we should care. Customer experience is quickly becoming a differentiator among the brands that are succeeding and those falling behind. Creating an optimal customer experience hinges on a company’s ability to collect and connect customer data throughout the customer journey. Forresters’ report shows, when it comes to customer data management practices, even the leaders have room to grow.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.