Written by David Wilford
Posted on 10/08/2015

Technology’s role in creating a Single Customer View

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The Single Customer View might increasingly be the aim of every consumer-targeted business, but an elite group of ‘superstar’ businesses are building on their technology and organisational investments to build a lead. How can the rest catch up?

It’s a given that in today’s omnichannel world, the Single Customer View (SCV) is a vision of sales and marketing heaven. That is, the ability to recognise an individual and know their full customer history, their preferences and their other little foibles, regardless of which channel they are currently using: any one of several social media platforms, email, mobile or SMS – sometimes even a landline or a physical store.

Having this ability means that all sales, marketing and customer-support channels can actively complement one another to provide a properly seamless and personalised service, resolving issues faster and ultimately making more sales.

Overcoming the obstacles

Trouble is, it’s not easy. Companies regularly come up against barriers including incompatible or hard-to-link technologies, organisational siloes and low-quality, insufficient or too much data. For many, these obstacles are currently proving difficult to overcome. And that means that an elite group of customer-management superstars are building a lead right now that others may find extremely difficult to break down.

So what are these leaders doing that’s so different?

First and foremost, they’ve already built a very close and mutually supportive relationship between their most senior marketing and information officers. That’s enabled them to create a technology environment that enables customer data to be collected by the same – or at least compatible – technologies at every touch-point.

Capacity and flexibility

Today, that environment also has to run on modern databases that are capable of performing in this big data world. That means immense capacity and virtually infinite flexibility – factors that are often beyond the capabilities of the older SQL-based relational databases that most companies still use to capture, store and manage their customer information.

That’s why the superstars have moved on to new-generation NoSQL databases that enable them to access and interpret data in real time, adding enormous power and impetus to their customer relationships.

That’s not where it ends. Their close inter-departmental relationships also extend far beyond the marketing and information teams to embrace the whole organisation. That’s because these companies have recognised that most organisational structures predate the newly empowered customer, and have therefore lost most of their relevance in the modern world.

The need for analytics

Another factor they recognise as irrelevant is any reliance on the traditional age and gender demographics that targeting and customer management used to be based on. The sudden rush of new customer data that’s available today – what size, what style, what colour, what flavour – is enabling a far richer and deeper understanding of each individual. However, this understanding is only achievable by those companies that have the Business Intelligence and analytics capabilities that enable them to convert bewildering volumes of disparate data into useful (and usable) information and insight.

So, attaining the Single Customer View doesn’t come easily – or cheaply. But for any consumer business that really intends to compete with the superstars must get to grips with it, sooner rather than later. Otherwise, we’re increasingly faced with the prospect of a world in which fewer and fewer global sales businesses ‘own’ every customer relationship – and that can’t be allowed to happen.