Re-aligning the Customer Strategy in the Post COVID-19 Era


“If the digital transformation was only highly-desirable before the pandemic, it is
compulsory now,” says Manish Sood, CEO, and Co-Founder at Reltio, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.

TCMO Bureau: How will the role of a great data strategy transform in the “new business normal?”

Manish Sood: I’ll start with my view that the “new normal” will be digital. If the digital
transformation was only highly-desirable before the pandemic, it is compulsory now. Consumer behavior has changed dramatically during the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals and enterprises — both B2C and B2B — have shifted to online engagement, and transactions as federal and state regulations minimize or restrict in-person transactions. This new way of doing business will persist well beyond the health crisis.

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McKinsey & Company wrote in a recent COVID-19 Briefing note that successful transition to the new normal requires companies to “respond in three ways: digital excellence, safe and contactless engagement, and dynamic customer insights.” The dilemma is, how can businesses connect with physically remote customers in meaningful ways? Interactive, personalized engagement driven by data, content, and intelligent automation can make that connection.

Enterprises entering economic recovery with a strong customer data foundation to accelerate digital transformation have an edge.

Data is foundational because it affects the performance of so many critical operational and analytical applications. The old maxim, “garbage in, garbage out,” is insufficient. The stakes are higher now. Bad data causes systemic cross-contamination. Incomplete data makes actionable insights impossible; even worse, it may expose you to various compliance risks and bad press.

TCMO Bureau: In the current COVID-19 crisis, how important do you think hyper-personalization is?

Manish Sood: According to data from 451 Research, an S&P Global Market Intelligence company, 61 percent of customers who leave a website dissatisfied will not return. Customers won’t tolerate disjointed and disconnected interactions and expect to get hyper-personalized connected experiences based on the information they have already provided, across all touchpoints with your brand. Your customers should feel heard. These demands and expectations continue to put digital, customer experience, marketing, sales, and data and analytics teams under pressure. Reltio is at the forefront of helping enterprises navigate these challenges and power the data-driven digital economy. Brand loyalty is also important, as consumers become more discerning with how they spend their dollars and how brands market to them. Hyper-personalization allows companies to engage customers with relevance and context.

TCMO Bureau: What, according to you, is the most important tip to help brands navigate the current economic climate?

Manish Sood: Delivering the desired customer experiences is the most important thing for brands. That requires knowing your customers’ demographics, interactions, and transactions with your business across all channels and their extended relationships. Multi-domain data, including third-party data that enrich customer profiles, is essential. And you need the ability to continuously modify those profiles because customers are dynamic.

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There are many stakeholders. Some gather and manage the data. Others use it. Some do both. Winning in the data-driven digital economy demands the participation of everyone on that continuum. I may be slightly subjective, but customer data is an enterprise’s most important data. Nothing matters more, because there is no business without customers.

TCMO Bureau: With digitization becoming the top-most goal for enterprises,
how has it impacted the need for compliance and consent management tools?

Manish Sood: Compliance is essential. In the current high tech, low-touch economy, and in years to come. There is a new wave of data privacy and security practices that businesses must prioritize. When an organization undergoes a digital transformation journey, the goal is to maximize customer engagement and experience, making the security of customer data critical. Privacy and consent not only build customer trust, but they are often required for compliance by the GDPR and emerging legislation such as the CCPA. The CCPA is set to be enforced in less than a month, and staying on the right side of the regulation will be a catalyst for positive change that can strengthen an organization’s relationship with its customers, community, and key stakeholders. Ultimately, with support from the CEO, nominate a key executive within the organization to oversee this responsibility – such as a CISO or VP of Compliance.

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Manish is responsible for the overall direction and management of Reltio. Prior to founding Reltio, Manish led Product strategy and management for the Master Data Management (MDM) platform at Informatica and Siperian. He is the co-author of the patent that revolutionized MDM through a global business identifier. During his career, Manish has architected some of the largest and most widely used data management solutions used by Fortune 100 companies today. Manish was recently ranked among the top 100 CEOs in America.