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Do you have a single customer view?

Insight • By ELLIE GAUCI • 29 June 2016

Over the past decade, advances in technology have enabled marketers to communicate with their customers via a multitude of new channels.

The massive growth in digital channels has seen web, SMS and social media join traditional direct marketing tools such as direct mail, email and telephone.

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Developing and building a meaningful conversation with customers using all the channels at our disposal gives marketers the potential to bring unprecedented depth, engagement and value to brand and consumer interactions.

However, whilst many companies are now using some if not all of these channels, many have fallen into the trap of creating multiple channel silos rather than truly integrated multi-channel communications. The difference may seem insignificant but, in practical terms, the two approaches are worlds apart.

Joining up the dots

A multiple channel strategy simply uses all the methods available to contact customers, but not in a consistently joined-up manner. There is little or no consideration given to delivering the consumer a consistent view of the brand. This is particularly true when the consumer’s interaction is with various functions of the same organisation, such as marketing, customer service or after-sales service.

And from the company’s perspective, the same issue emerges; many brands are unable to quickly access a single view of the customer. For example, what products they hold, what the last communication with the company was and what the next touch point is likely to be or should be.

A lack of integration

This problem has been particularly pronounced in financial services where customers are likely to hold more than one product with one company. With banks, for example, one individual may have current and savings accounts, mortgages and loans. Historically, these products have been heavily siloed so communication is rarely integrated between them; a problem exacerbated as the number of channels and frequency of communication increases. In practical terms, this might mean a customer receives two items of mail on the same day relating to both their mortgage and their debit card, not to mention exhaustive and impersonal terms and conditions, pertaining to their multiple product holdings.

Even where companies have developed a Single Customer View and implemented marketing automation software to drive multi-channel communications, they are often constrained by a legacy of organisational, departmental and system divisions – these can become significant barriers to affecting meaningful change.

Single Customer View

Delivering a true multi-channel communications strategy should result in companies integrating different product areas and using a single platform to deliver communications via the customer’s channel of preference, at the right time.

But, how do you make this a practical reality for the majority of businesses?

Using the Single Customer View (SCV) to drive communications enables marketing, product and transactional messages to be properly and seamlessly synchronised. Only through the use of an effective SCV can companies fully operationalise their customer segmentations and extract maximum value from the numerous channels open to them, whilst also preventing brands from unwittingly bombarding their customers with inconsistent and ill-timed communications that are viewed as irrelevant and not engaging.

Better customer experiences

Companies must therefore be sufficiently joined-up in their internal structures in order to exploit the benefits of the Single Customer View. The insight delivered by a central picture of customer behaviour will be wasted if that information is not used consistently across all departments to enhance the customer journey.

As a consumer, when we communicate with a company we want to be assured that they recognise us, understand us, value us.

The Single Customer View provides the marketer with key information to use at every customer touch-point; enabling them to deliver personalised, relevant and engaging customer experiences. Ultimately this results in happier customers, higher sales and greater shareholder value.