The concept of single customer view is the future in customer service. Why? Because it resolves a very real challenge with customer communications.
In fact, consider how many channels customers use to interact with your business. They may send emails, call agents, tweet at your corporate account, and so on. All these interactions happen at different times and with multiple people – and often, an employee involved in one interaction isn’t aware of the other interactions.
This represents a missed opportunity to offer excellent customer service. It may also lead to confusion, missed information, and frustration among customers and your various internal teams.
These are exactly the problems that a single customer view helps solve.
What is a single customer view?
A ‘single customer view’ or SCV (often called unified customer view or UCV) is a way to keep aggregated, holistic information about your customers in a single place. All your interactions with a customer, along with data like preferences and demographics, can be stored and viewed in one page or file. Gone are the data silos that make customer conversations and reporting so difficult.
Why is single customer view important?
Single customer view is important because it’s the only way to create holistic customer profiles (or 360 view of customers) that will help you offer streamlined experiences to customers.
For example, consider this: you have interactions with customers across multiple touchpoints, departments, and people. But, 76 percent of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. How do you consolidate the information from these interactions to avoid misalignment and loss of information?
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Benefits of a single customer view
A single customer view can help you:
- Store all important information in a single place. Customers are more than single data points, they are a complex blend of characteristics and preferences. With a unified customer view, you’re able to see things like demographics, past orders, average purchase value, location, for every individual customer, all at a single glance.
- Reconcile data for each customer. All departments should have access to the same customer data. For example, it might get confusing if sales sends emails to a customer’s personal email address, while marketing sends emails to their work email address. A UCV will reduce these data silos that hurt customer experience.
- Have quick and easy access to past customer interactions. Gina from customer support will know the customer has already provided the accounting department with their credit information so she won’t ask for it again.
- Have a holistic, multi-device view of each customer’s interactions and attributes. This is one of the single customer view benefits that you can turn into a competitive advantage. A UCV will tell you how a customer interacts with your business, so you can better understand behaviors, needs, and wants, from the products they like to issues they encounter. This enhances your ability to personalize future interactions (e.g. email campaigns) — something the majority of customers is looking for.
- Keep your entire team updated on the customer journey. Imagine a customer visits your pricing page on mobile and then doesn’t do anything for a while, or they contact a sales associate to help them place an order. With a unified customer view, the team will be able to monitor the customer’s actions and touchpoints all the way to purchase and beyond — getting insight to orchestrate the entire customer journey properly.
These abilities will help you inform:
- Email or social media campaigns
- Upsell efforts
- PPC and content marketing
- Customer support interactions
- Customer loyalty programs (e.g. discounts)
- Other marketing and sales efforts
That all sounds pretty good, right?
How to create a single customer view
Step #1: Understand your business needs
When the volume of data or the headcount of your business is low, you may find that a spreadsheet can do the job. As you grow, you might rely on many marketing, sales, and customer support tools and integrations to create the most accurate view of your customer data.
But, this method is difficult to scale – at some point, you’ll need dedicated software to start creating a single customer view. Make sure you’re on the same page with other executives and departments, and discuss your goals.
Step #2: Choose the right software
An easy solution would be using an e-crm for a unified view of the customer (e-crm stands for “electronic customer relationship management”), or another similar platform. For example, you can use a platform to unify information from disparate systems, such as web analytics, an e-commerce system, customer support software, and more. This way you’ll have a single place for your employees to access and analyze customer information.
To make sure you choose the right software, do your research. Do the systems you already use have this functionality? If not, do they integrate with a system that does? Pricing, UX/UI, implementation time, and the customer service of the vendor are all important factors to consider.
During demos or trials, pay particular attention to how customizable and easily analyzed the unified customer view is. Ask sales reps to show you a single customer view example so you can better understand how the interface works.
Step #3: Migrate SCV data into new systems
When you implement a software that can help you set up a single unified view, you don’t want to lose data. You will need to create a data migration and data integration process or integrate entire old systems with new.
As a first step, identify all your data sources (e.g. your data warehouse) and evaluate the data quality in each one. Then, you’ll know what kind of data you need to integrate and which will be part of your dashboard. It’s a good opportunity to rethink your data management practices, too, and apply improvements when needed.
Are there any limitations?
One issue to be wary of is how well-built a software and its single customer view analytics are. If the UCV gets more confusing the more data you add, then that software will not serve your business well in the long-term.
So, make sure you know what you want to track from the beginning and account for future needs when choosing your software. After all, you want a UCV to make it easier to understand your customers, not harder. With the right software at hand, you’re one step closer to turning your business into a customer favorite – and that’s an exciting possibility to pursue.