From a conversation with a store manager to real-time digital tracking, data about your customers guides your business. As data collection becomes more widespread, consolidating and analyzing it becomes far more difficult.
Just as data is everywhere, all the time, customers are too, and they can interact with your business through multiple channels. People want to feel like companies are loyal to them, not just the other way around. One way to keep your customers is to show that you truly know their particular preferences, habits, and needs whether they’re contacting you as @Love2Hike99 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A single customer view (SCV) helps businesses create profitable customer experiences, generate accurate and actionable insight, and offer reliable, relevant services no matter how a customer interacts with the brand.
Here’s how to build an SCV for your business.
One Customer, One Truth
A single customer view combines all relevant customer data from all accessible sources into a single customer record. SCVs can contain demographic and contact information, purchase and loyalty program history, digital engagement, and previous communications.
Customer information is consolidated into an SCV to avoid duplication and inaccuracies far more efficiently than data entry or human record keeping can achieve. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) collects and stores the data and allows for a drilldown to an SCV.
The best SCVs are simple, customizable, easy to read, and are updated in near real-time. SCVs can be used to track marketing efficiency, sales, customer engagement, and more.
Win-Win: The Benefits of SCVs
SCVs provide comprehensive records of each customer. They are accurate, up-to-date snapshots using data from all sources. The benefits of an SCV include: more accurate analytics, reduction in redundant or irrelevant marketing, and real-time views of customer behavior.
As an example, here’s how an SCV of a restaurant’s regular customer benefits the business and improves the customer experience.
- Customer Service: Hosting staff knows where the regular likes to sit, which increases customer satisfaction and saves time.
- Marketing and Sales: Wait staff knows what the regular likes to eat and can upsell from “the usual” to a special more easily. Also, the restaurant can send out promotions highly tailored to the interests of that particular customer.
- Financial: General knowledge about past purchases leads to more accurate predictions about future purchases.
- Loyalty: The regular’s preferences can be shared with all staff so the customer experience is always relevant and positive. Because the regular feels personally valued and understood, they will be more loyal and more likely to bring in new customers.
- Cost Reduction: The restaurant won’t waste resources on marketing that would be irrelevant or irritating to the customer.
If the details about the regular could be shared with all the restaurants in a chain, the customer could go into any location and still get the same personalized service. SCVs go a step further and help businesses know their customers regardless of how a customer interacts and how they identify themselves.
Because SCVs create a robust and trustable record of customer behavior, they’re also useful in aggregate, beyond simply understanding a single customer. Artificial intelligence can analyze trends and make predictions with more accuracy based on the information in an SCV.
Single Customer View Architecture: How to Build an SCV
Step 1: Identify Data Sources
Identifying data sources can be the most difficult aspect of consolidating to an SCV. Departmental specialization, multiple SaaS platforms, and widely dispersed data sources are just some of the roadblocks. Even if your business is using the same enterprise software, not everyone is pulling the same data. Customers can also have multiple profiles with contradictory information.
Don Peppers, author and business strategist, explains that customer data needs to be treated as the currency your business trades in. Peppers warns that:
“When the digital marketing platform operates on one definition of customer data, while the customer service platform uses a different currency, and the sales force automation tool relies on yet another currency, then the result won’t be efficiency, but confusion, frustration, and (often) security problems.”
The best practice is to use your CDP to unite customer data sources into a single source of truth for marketing and beyond.
Step 2: Collect and Cleanse Data
Once all of the data sources have been identified, the next step is to collect and cleanse. Data collection funnels customer information from various sources such as sales records, loyalty programs, and CRMs. Data collection should also include in-store purchases along with digital activity.
Data cleansing ensures your data is trustworthy, consistent, and correct. It is best handled by CDPs that can update, purge, and resolve errors in real-time no matter where the data comes from. Data cleansing clears up missing, irrelevant, and inaccurate information so that customer profiles can be properly consolidated.
Step 3: Unify Customer Profiles
It can be daunting to consider how to merge and consolidate customer profiles. Even after the data is cleansed, single customers often still have multiple identities.
Global beverage giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) integrated more than 1,000 different data sources and platforms into unified customer records. As a result of consolidating siloed data, AB InBev created 70.1 million unique customer data records, accelerated digital transformation, and was able to empower its marketers with a single, easy-to-use interface for everything from analytics to orchestration.
Step 4: Apply Analytics to Generate Insight
SCVs can be analyzed on multiple levels to determine industry trends, marketing successes, and customer engagement. Tools like customer satisfaction surveys or loyalty program data can be analyzed to determine where your sales and marketing resources are working and where they aren’t. Because SCVs are company-wide, each segment of the business can run analysis on what is vital to them and the resulting insights can be shared.
Since SVCs are consolidated and current, results of analysis are more accurate and valuable.
Step 5: Act on Insights
Now that you have one version of the truth, your business is able to really use data as a currency. Insights from analysis of clean customer data can be used to hone your marketing and sales efforts and create loyal customers. Clean and updated SCVs can help exclude existing customers from costly top of the funnel initiatives that would be irrelevant to them. Insights about customer engagement and response can be used to guide future marketing and product development.