Customers interact with your business across multiple channels: they may send emails, call customer service 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 and may also lead to confusion, missed information, and frustration among customers and your customer service, marketing or other teams.
These are exactly the problems that a unified customer view (UCV) helps solve.
A UCV, often called ‘single customer view’ or SCV, is a way to rid your business of data silos and keep aggregated, holistic information about your customers in a single place.
This means all your interactions with a customer, along with data like preferences and demographics, can be stored and viewed in one page or file.
Let’s start from the beginning: when using an omnichannel approach to business, your relationship with your customers is built on a number of interactions across multiple touchpoints. For example, the same customer may have spoken with Gina from Customer Support, Jeetan from Marketing, and Tom from Accounting numerous times, or perhaps even with multiple people within the same departments – and each of their interactions produces different pieces of information about this customer.
Now, most companies will store that information (according to privacy laws). The question is: where? In some cases, each department has its own database and handles information with their own methods.
This causes misalignment and loss of information among departments, making it hard for your business to provide good customer experience. It also deprives your business of the ability to use multiple data points to construct the story of a customer and understand them on a deeper level.
Customers are more than single data points, they are a complex blend of characteristics and preferences. With unified customer view software, you’re able to see things like their demographics, past orders, average purchase value, location, and more, all at a single glance.
All departments should have access to the same customer data. For example, it might get confusing if Jeetan sends emails to a customer’s personal email address, while Tom sends emails to their work email address.
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.
This is one of the single customer view benefits that you can turn into a competitive advantage. A UCV will let you know how a customer interacts with your business, and their characteristics, so you can better understand their behavior, needs, and wants, from the products they like to the issues they most often encounter. This enhances your ability to personalize future interactions (e.g. email campaigns) and provide outstanding customer experience.
Imagine a customer visits your pricing page on mobile and then doesn’t do anything for a while, or they contact an agent to help them place an order. With a unified customer view, the agents involved and their team leader will be able to monitor the customers actions and touchpoints all the way to purchase and beyond.
With these abilities, you could inform:
That all sounds pretty good, right?
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 integration to create the most accurate view of your customer data. But, this method is difficult to scale – at some point, you’ll need to start using an e-crm for a unified view of the customer (e-crm stands for “electronic customer relationship management”), or another similarly useful 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.
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.
Nikoletta is a Content Specialist at Acquire. She's a writer and editor with an avid interest in data, tech, communication, and the customer journey.