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Single Customer View: What Is It, and Why Does Your Company Need It?

Bang! Bang! Crash! Screech! This is what comes to mind when I think of a four-way intersection that does not have a roundabout or traffic signals to navigate and control the flow of traffic. Take a second to visualize it. Imagine the pure chaos at the scene; on-site casualties, vehicular damage, infrastructure damage, delay in time and essential personnel, etc. First responders are usually the ones who arrive at this scene of damage. They are the ones who respond to all that chaos. They have a protocol in place to deal with events like this, to make sure that they handle it efficiently and systematically. 

Now, extrapolate this scenario into the world of customer service. If the customer service personnel (first responders to customers) are expected to access the customer’s information from multiple departments (sales, marketing, finance, logistics, etc.) in the company, and didn’t have a methodical way to go about it, the situation will be chaotic, not unlike the example illustrated above. This will result in unforeseen delays such as leaving the customer on hold for an unreasonable time while accessing their information, requesting the customer to provide vital information which otherwise could be found in a few clicks, etc. 

All this will result in mediocre customer service at best. In this chaos, what would happen if you introduced metaphorical “roundabouts (better flow of information) and traffic signals (data points tracked and collected)”? That’s exactly where setting up a Single Customer View dashboard can help you. Read on to find out how!

Customers – The Rulers of Your Company

By 2020, if you haven’t understood that customers are the ones who rule your company, then I suggest you immediately rethink the situation. Your company needs to have an agile team that provides the best customer service to your prospects and existing customers to stay in their good books and maintain a positive brand image. Marc Benioff, Chair, Co-CEO and Founder of Salesforce.com once famously said, “Customers talk about products and services in real time. Companies need to join the conversation”. 

Customers who have a bad experience are not telling just a few people about it but are hashtagging their experience on the social media platforms for the whole world to see. Inversely, they are also doing the same when they have a good experience. Hence, customer service is quintessential for any company’s survival. So how do you go about accomplishing this? One tactic that you can employ to promote customer retention and in turn develop an efficient and tangible customer experience is by setting up Single Customer View (SCV). 

What is a Single Customer View or 360-degree Customer view?

Growing up as an Investment Banker’s daughter, I was always told that having a panoramic, 360-degree view of the situation at hand will allow me to better handle it. I think that the same applies here. Companies need to understand, track and document the entire journey that they have with each individual customer. A Single Customer View is basically a self-sufficient, cohesive, and up-to-date database that incorporates every single piece of data that is generated based on individual customer’s interactions with the company. By doing so, one can segment and analyze customers based on patterns in purchase orders, demographics, and behavior to gain awareness which will allow for development of retention strategies and future customer acquisition.

Ideally, once the single customer view is established, it will provide a holistic snapshot of each customer and their interactions with the company. In a single frame, one can view all the relevant data of the customer which includes present and past activity data, transactional data, complete set of interactions with the company and various other data points the company collects and deems relevant. In today’s fast and personalized world, customers have developed an “entitled outlook” (for the lack of better phrase) towards their interactions with various companies. Inevitably, companies take the initiative to interact with customers. By doing so, they analyze their personalities, preferences and their eccentric charms. Using Single Customer View, the much sought after personalization can be provided.  An example of how a Single Customer View dashboard looks like can be found below –

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As mentioned in this blog post, I cannot stress enough on the fact that companies need to know their customers. For example: Let us suppose Bed, Bath and Beyond is having a sale on their 3-wick candles. Now, as a huge fan of scented candles, I am in the store perusing through the choices they have and I find out about their buy 2 and get 1 free offer. As a bargain hunter myself, I find this offer to be very lucrative. Now a couple of hours later I receive an email from Bed, Bath and Beyond which talks about the same offer. Now most people will just ignore this, or grumble to their friends and family about this. But over a period of time, continuous such occurrences will cause customers to unsubscribe from such promotional emails or worse stop shopping at the stores and look for other companies that will understand them better. Hence it is paramount that companies using multiple platforms to interact with their customers need to track their interactions (such as purchases at the store etc.) with them. Hence to avoid such situations and more Single Customer View is quintessential for both the company and the customer itself. 

There are two different kinds of views that can be implemented. One is a Snapshot View and the other is Predictive View. Most companies when implementing Single Customer View, will update it using all the latest data available. Even though this is beneficial for many purposes, yet some companies want to understand and see how their customers have changed over time. This is when predictive modelling comes into play. This will allow for tracking the change in customer behavior and trends over a period of time. This is also known as “timeline approach”. This approach means that companies will be able to look through the data at each particular time period of the customer & company interaction. The data can go back for each day (sometimes each week or month) for many months and years at a time. Using this method ensures that companies use emotional intelligence more when it comes to dealing with their customers.

Challenges and Benefits of Single Customer View

Although it seems easy to establish a Single Customer View, in reality however it is difficult. The data each customer leaves with the company is siloed. Consolidating the data across the different apps and databases requires more than just a name or email address. This common misconception does not actually allow for data consolidation because of the following reasons:

  1. Irregularity of Identifiers Used – A company uses a plethora of systems to document their interactions with the customers. For example: the logistics team will use an address to identify the customer, whereas the accounting team might use a phone number,  so on and so forth. This makes it difficult to unify the data existing across multiple systems.
  2. Collected Data Errors – Even if a company agrees to use a single identifier across multiple platforms, there are still chances of errors to occur when capturing the data. This could be in the form of a mis-spelling of a name, or collection of a home phone number as opposed to mobile number etc. 

However, even though the above mentioned reasons can cause roadblocks in setting up a Single Customer View, it can be overcome by the use of software that can refine, match, cleanse and enrich the existing data so as to coalesce heterogeneous data that is present across different functions of the company.  Apart from providing a personalized customer service, here are some of the other benefits of using a Single Customer View for your business:

  1. Allows for executing a well defined decision-making process and better marketing programs for customer retention and customer satisfaction. 
  2. Provides a much clearer customer insight on what products and services each customer are looking at.
  3. Ensures better quality control of data and creation of sharper marketing tactics.  
  4. Most importantly, enhances customer service and satisfaction across all fronts.
  5. Enhanced flow of information between multiple departments in a company.

Data Makes the World Go Around!

Cheekily I write, whoever said love makes the world go around didn’t have the foresight of how today’s world would turn out to be. Had they still been alive they would concur with me – “Data is what makes the world go around”.  And how do you get this data, you ask? Well, while painstakingly finding and adding information manually to your CRM or SCV is still on the table, the ideal way to go about this is by getting automated insights about leads, prospects, and customers using a sales intelligence software like Slintel. Check out our website to see how Slintel can enrich your database with relevant, contextual insights about your customers!

Sushmitha Malali

Sushmitha Malali

Sushmitha has been a wanderer most of her life. Having spent her life in a plethora of countries - India, Kuwait, Muscat, and the United States of America, she enjoys learning about different cultures and discovering new languages. She has dabbled in Medical Writing and Education Content Writing. She is an avid reader and when not writing, loves curling up with a book and hot chocolate.

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