Did you know only 24 percent of executives report that their companies have created a data-driven organization? It’s something that a lot of organizations aspire to, but not everyone achieves.
Being data-driven is about having high-quality data on hand to add value to your organization. Typically, this clean, processed data resides in your data warehouse under the management of your data teams. But, there’s a problem with that. The data inside your warehouse might be beyond the reach of your non-technical teams. This causes several problems:
- You’re restricting access to data that could drive business growth
- Your less-technical members of staff cannot access the data warehouse. This makes your data teams a bottleneck for business requests and operations.
- Data silos build up between departments, creating several versions of the truth that contribute to an inconsistent customer experience
- Spreading your data across multiple systems increases the risk of data quality issues
To solve this issue, you need a way to extract your higher-quality data back out of your warehouse and feed it into your business applications for people to use in their daily business operations.
This is where reverse ETL comes in.
What is reverse ETL?
It’s easier to understand reverse ETL if you start with forward ETL. Forward ETL involves getting your data from one place to another. Typically, you’re taking your data from your SaaS business applications and loading it into a cloud-based warehouse.
With reverse ETL you’re copying processed data from your data warehouse and loading it back into your business applications. This puts your data to work in a system staff are familiar with, rather than siloing it in the hands of the data team. Reverse ETL closes the data loop.
Typically, the reverse ETL process follows these steps:
- You extract the raw data from your datasets inside your data warehouse.
- You transform the data while it’s still inside the warehouse, so that it meets the requirements of the business application you want to use it in.
- You load the data into the business application.
Data warehouses often hold an organization's aggregated data, making it a trustworthy source of truth to base business decisions on. If you do your forward ETL properly, your data warehouse should be the best version of the data you have. You can rely on the reports it produces and the insights you get from it.
So that’s what reverse ETL is, but why would you choose to use it?
The benefits of reverse ETL
- Operationalizing your data. First and foremost, reverse ETL makes your data useful. By operationalizing your data inside business applications, you’re equipping your teams with the right data to build effective campaigns.
- Streamlining your integrations. The average company has over 100 SaaS applications in their data stack. With reverse ETL, you have fewer point-to-point connections, meaning fewer integrations overall. It simplifies your data, creating organization-wide alignment.
- Enabling data accessibility. With every team accessing data directly from the warehouse, you’re not confining data within business applications. This means that your sales team for example, can access marketing data or financial data if they need to.
- Reducing the burden on your IT teams. Reverse ETL equips your teams on the ground with the data they need for their day-to-day operations. This makes IT and data teams less of a bottleneck for completing basic tasks.
- Improving your customer experience. Reverse ETL empowers your team with the data they need to make real-time decisions, in a system that they’re familiar with. This allows them to provide more accurate customer support.
Improving the customer experience - 3 reverse ETL use cases
1. Improving your data quality
Given the massive amount of data your organization deals with, there are going to be some errors here and there. If data stays in business applications, these errors can often go unchecked and unfixed. This can lead to data quality issues.
Poor data quality directly impacts your customer experience. Inaccuracies in your customer data can lead to dissatisfaction, increased support tickets, and poor customer reviews. Examples of quality issues that could lead to dissatisfaction include:
- Misspelled names
- Incorrect address lines
- Undelivered communications
- Duplicate emails
- Inaccurate transaction records
With reverse ETL, your data is aligned with the clean, processed data inside your data warehouse. If your finance team for example have the most up to date contact details, that information gets parsed out to other department applications. This keeps all records accurate and up to date.
2. Enhancing operational reporting
Reverse ETL synchronizes your data across your business applications by aligning it with the data in your data warehouse. This synchronization improves your reporting by building a broader picture of your operations. For example, you might not track your invoices in your CRM, but with the two applications synchronized, you’ll produce more accurate operational reports benefitting from the extra data.
This wider view allows your teams to tailor their communications to your customers. Your sales team for example can see if a client has irregular payments or missed payments entirely. With this they can hone their targeting and upsell strategies to better match customer behaviors.
3. Boosting the effectiveness of your customer-facing teams
Your teams on the ground benefit from reverse ETL because it gives them a complete view of your customers. Imagine your support team are dealing with a tricky customer, and they only have limited information to work with. They’re going to be less effective at their job. But, what if they had access to:
- The customer’s full file
- Their purchase history
- The support package they’re currently paying for
- Context around their support ticket
- A record of any previous communications
With that right on their screen, the support agent can reach resolutions faster. Reverse ETL joins up your data and provides it to the people who need it now. This boosts efficiency, productivity, and reduces frustration.
Go back to go forward
Seventy-three percent of consumers rate customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
Ultimately, reverse ETL is all about accessing your data and activating it to provide your operational teams with valuable real-time insights. These insights promote quicker, more confident customer decisions which will improve your customer experience. And a better customer experience leads to more sales and helps you on your path to business growth.