The concept of a single customer view has been around for many, many years now. Looking back at its popularity as a Google search term, the phrase was most popular in 2004 and has seen peaks and troughs ever since, but the notion is no less important. It encompasses the idea of having an holistic and comprehensive view of one’s customer, allowing the organisation to predict the future actions of the customer, and so adapt future interactions with them, based on their behaviour in the past.
A recently published report by Experian poses the question of whether we should be moving away from trying to get a single customer view and towards a universal customer view instead. Research suggests that companies recognise the benefits of a well-rounded view of their customer. Experian found that 50% of organisations cite improving customer experience as the biggest driver for implementing a universal customer view, and 60% of organisations perceive customer experience to be the top source of differentiation over the next three years. Furthermore, better customer insight is a critical priority for 80% of organisations.
According to the report writers, a universal customer view, be it commercial or consumer, is built on a consistent, actionable data set that is both accurate and easily-maintained. It allows them to understand the needs, motivations and identities of their customers and prospects. The report said: “The real value of a universal view of your customers relies on the ability to maintain it and ensure its integrity over time.”
Experian stated that a universal customer view has three key benefits. During prospecting and onboarding, a company can build a more accurate picture of the types of customer it already has and a view of how they have interacted with the brand before. It also enables the delivery of a more personalised service or offering across the life cycle of the customer, and makes it easier for the company to entice back customers who have churned through effective targeting.
"83% of organisations see data as an integral part of forming a business strategy."
Adi Clowes, head of data and analytics at Center Parcs said: “We’re committed to our vision of delivering the most personalised and proactive guest experiences at every single touchpoint. That relies on our ability to bring together millions of interactions, combining the voice of the customer with good quality data, and delivering it back to the business.”
Companies recognise the value of data in driving a business forward and improving customer experience. Experian research found that 83% of organisations see data as an integral part of forming a business strategy. It was also found that 65% of businesses acknowledge there’s a need to improve their customer insight. At the moment, less than one in five can harness all their data to optimise customer interactions. And so, it seems that while the desire is there, in many cases the data they have is not of the standard necessary to draw the most useful insights.
The alternative is manual linking and duplicate management.
Maria Hopper, data protection manager at Cleveland Police said: “Not having a clear view of each record in our system meant valuable time and resource was spent manually linking and managing duplicates. Creating a universal view with accurate, up-to-date data has solved that problem.”
Too much data or data that is difficult to access and action can end up being an impediment to businesses, with 68% of organisations claiming that increasing volumes of data make is difficult to meet regulatory obligations. However, clarity and accuracy can turn large volumes of data from a liability into an asset.
"Increasing volumes of data make is difficult to meet regulatory obligations"
Paul Silvester, data governance analyst at Metro Bank, said: “The financial sector in particular is subject to a number of important regulatory reporting commitments. We place great importance on maintaining a clear and accurate view of our data because it’s fundamental to being able to meet our requirements efficiently and proactively uncover and fix data issues that could compromise our response.”
“Organisations should see their data as an asset. When used correctly it can unlock a wealth of insight and opportunity,” the report writers stated. “Through more holistic and reliable customer insight, organisations can make more intelligent, data-driven decisions and stop relying on instinct and subjective opinion.”