Seeing All of Your Customer

By Andrew Wolford | May 24, 2016

Developing a “360-degree view of the customer” is a top priority in most marketing organizations today, and with good reason: companies who adopt a holistic customer data strategy will gain a better understanding of their customers’ likes, dislikes, and purchasing behavior.  Being “one” with your customers lead to increased customer loyalty, and a loyal customer base is very good for a company’s bottom line.  But what is a “360-degree view of the customer?”

More than just a buzzword, a “360-degree view” means companies can build a complete view of their customers by aggregating data from the various touch-points a customer has with a company. Customers today share a lot of personal data as they interact with a company through an ever-increasing number of channels and devices. Companies who can effectively leverage this data have an opportunity to leap ahead of the pack by creating interactive, personal experiences for their customers.

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy as well. Whether your organization employs 50 locally, or 5,000 globally, customers expect the same degree of service: a personal, unified experience. Customers want to engage with companies who know and understand them; who “get” them.  This can only happen when companies have all customer touch points aggregated in one view. When companies get this right it creates customer interactions that are experiential and not transactional, increases customer lifetime value, and turns consumers into passionate, loyal advocates.

The advent of smart devices, social medial, and online communities, along with traditional touch points like customer support and purchase history has created incredible opportunities to engage with and understand customers. However, with this opportunity comes complexity as aggregating all of these various customer touch points can be a complicated undertaking. There are now a number of tools in the market that can help you build a 360-degree view. Examples include social media listening apps to gather what customers are saying on Facebook and Twitter, predictive analytics tools to determine what customers might research and buy next, and CRM suites, which only realize their potential when part of an integrated customer view.

This can seem like an arduous process but it doesn’t have to be with the right approach.  In some cases, this may involve the use of APIs to enable applications to share data. Data quality and data cleansing practices may also be necessary to attain an accurate picture of customers. A big data analytics strategy may also be required to develop the 360-degree customer view, marrying structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources.

Here are the first three steps you can take right now to start building out your 360-degree customer profile:

  1. Explicitly call out your goals for what you want to achieve.  This sounds fairly obvious but it’s amazing how often organizations jump into building ‘something’ without a clear vision of what they’re trying to achieve.  Do you want to increase same-customer sales?  Do you want to increase customer satisfaction through a better customer support experience?  Do you want to be able to view all customer-centric metrics on a single management dashboard?  Different goals will require different approaches and it’s important to understand what it is your organization is trying to achieve.
  2. Identify the customer touch points you want to be able to track along with their corresponding systems.  Prioritize these touch points from most impactful to least.  In the beginning this can be a simple list but as you progress you’ll want to understand the commonality of customer data across these systems.  Does your sales system capture customer email?  Does your call center support tool contain a customer phone number?  Common customer data shared across your infrastructure can be used to tie these customer touch points together to create a holistic view.  Tying back to step one, what data attributes and metrics are present that will help you achieve your organizational goals?
  3. Start to define your architecture.  Questions like “Where will the solution live?” and “Who will support it when completed?” are key.  Does your organization primarily use Microsoft tools?  Are you open source?  Have you standardized on a particular reporting platform?  It doesn’t make much sense to build a solution that cannot be supported because the requisite skills are missing within your organization, so technology will need to be considered.

While there is certainly more to building a solution than can be described in one blog post, these three steps will get you started planning for a platform that provides deep customer insights and addresses your most important customer-facing questions.  Need help starting out? Whether you’re new to the world of 360-degree customer analytics, or need some guidance for an existing program, feel free to reach out here.