Pursuit of the single customer view – the challenge (part 1/2)

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The single customer view could arguably be the digital challenge of our time. With multiple devices, sessions and social profiles all relating to one individual and their journey, joining the dots into one coherent customer experience has never been more of a challenge.

In the first of this two-part series we’ll talk about the why it’s so important to consider each individual in a holistic fashion, beyond being just a user. In part 2 we’ll discuss key success factors in moving towards a single customer view and some examples of great data integration that’s making a difference.

What is the single or unified customer view?

The single customer view (or SCV if you like an acronym) is very simply the consolidation of data about a single individual and their interactions with an organisation. Typically this data may be from multiple sources or channels and may include:

  • browsing behaviour
  • social media interactions
  • customer service messages
  • conversions / purchases
  • demographic information

Benefits of the single customer view

Achieving the single customer view is a key aim for the majority of marketers according to Experian, and it’s easy to see why. When the motivations, concerns and behaviours of our target audience are clearly understood, we can design effective communications that resonate with them and ultimately, provide a better experience.

There are tangible benefits for businesses in all sectors, including:

  • Improved quality of customer service and ultimately, satisfaction levels
  • Growth in customer loyalty and developing brand advocates
  • Increase in customer retention and lifetime value

The obstacle course on the journey to a unified view

There are many challenges on the road to this marketing nirvana, often created through the natural evolution that occurs when a business grows.

The quality of the incoming data from third parties, affiliates or the accuracy of data collected manually that could be subject to human error (such as phone calls or manual data entry) all determine whether an accurate single customer view can be achieved from the data that exists in an ecosystem.

Then there’s the integration of the systems and teams within a business. Siloed data stuck in systems that don’t integrate well with others, internal departments that (probably unknowingly) keep silos of data and offline customer interactions that leave no digital footprint are three of the most significant challenges.

The nature of compiling the big picture is one of actively integrating offline experiences with digital touch points and piecing together a digital jigsaw puzzle of data. In its raw form the data is naturally fragmented. For instance, customer service engagements from a social profile, an email account and those that happen in person may be considered as originating from three separate people without a single customer approach.

Good data = Good customer relationship management (CRM)

Many people associate the above phrase or CRM acronym with a software system that supports the storage and management of contacts, but that’s a pretty limited perspective in today’s digital environment. It is, after all, about relationship management and today it’s the customer who’s in charge.

The single customer view is essential for effective relationship marketing. In the absence of aggregated insight, customer service that’s irrelevant or impersonal can prove costly, ineffective and in some cases alienating.

 

In part 2 we’ll look at 3 key success factors in working towards a single customer view and give some examples of companies that are making the best use of their data to provide a great customer experience.

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Author:

Sarah is the Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy at AB... and enjoys helping organisations get the most from their marketing activities. With an affinity for a data-driven approach, she specialises in customer and user experience, SEO and PPC management. At the moment, she's really interested in voice search. Sarah is Google-certified in both Ads and Analytics and has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing. She also has an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and joined the AB... team in April 2017.

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