How do I create a single view of customer?
How do I create a single view of customer?
Every company wants a single view of their customers. Why not? This will provide total visibility of what customers are doing, when they are doing it, and where. Yet, from my observations over the years, this shouldn’t be the goal everyone strives for. Provocative, yes, but true.
I have seen many organisations spend countless hours and millions of pounds on creating a single view of customers (and a single view of products, a single view of employees, a single view of suppliers, and so on) without effectively generating a return on investment. Not to mention never having that desired single view! In fact, a recent Experian study found 92% of companies do not have access to a single customer view.
So, what’s the answer? Take a practical, business-led approach to understanding your customers that recognises the challenges, complexities and costs of collecting data from a myriad of sources. Even if you have the data, it is likely that it’s poor quality with incomplete records and duplicates. Data transformation is required before it can be used by the business, such as your marketing team.
The best-performing organisations ditch the lofty vision of creating a single view of customers. Instead, they take a different approach which is answering the most important questions that will drive value today. Such as who are my most valuable customers, who are my loyal customers, and how can I get my customers to buy more? Once these questions are answered, they ask other business questions by collecting the relevant data from source systems and business applications.
By taking this agile but systemic approach, obtaining a single view of customers is no longer the goal but an outcome. It’s also how you can demonstrate to colleagues the value of your technology investment before asking for more budget to do advanced analytics, such as predicting what your customers will do next.
If you are uncertain of how to create a single view of customers, or you’re struggling to capitalise on the data you have already collected, here are a handful of tips:
Identify your customer data owners: Within an organisation, data about a single customer may be found across three, four, or more departments, often in different software applications. Identify which departments or teams own data about your customers and what software they use as a repository for information and data about customers.
Start customer data housekeeping: Look for inconsistencies, gaps or duplicates across these different versions of customer data. This is essentially a data cleaning exercise. For large volumes of customers, start by limiting the data in some way, such as identifying which customers have spent with you in the last 12 months, or by a minimum spend amount. Once you address priority customers you can then roll out the approach to other customers over time.
Set out a customer data strategy: Going forward as soon as you acquire a new customer, you will want to have in place a standardised approach for capturing and maintaining high-quality data, plus the effective management of that data from disparate sources. One way of identifying each individual customer is to give them a unique customer identifier number, like a licence plate or PIN. This unique identifier is always included with any data from any source about that customer, thus enabling all data on an individual customer to be pulled up easily across departments.
Gain buy-in from departments and teams that will be impacted: The existence of silos can be frustrating for your staff as much as your customers. It is not uncommon for personnel in one department, such as sales, being unwilling to share hard-won customer contacts and information with other teams, especially if they think it could lead to a customer being bombarded with communications. Setting out a vision about how the overall business will benefit, followed by benefits for each department can ensure that people are more willing to embrace any new responsibilities regarding capturing and maintaining customer data.
Invest in technology that supports a single customer view approach: I said earlier that aiming for a single customer view can be an elusive undertaking. However, for any organisation that wants to undertake data transformation, it is time to look at where any manual processes can be replaced with software technologies that ensure greater accuracy and process efficiency in relation to capturing, maintaining, storing and processing of customer data. These should integrate with legacy IT systems too, so that customer data, no matter when, where and how it has been acquired and stored, is accessible.
Find out more about obtaining a single view of customer here.
Chief Marketing Officer
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