Why you need a Single Customer View

In my previous post I provided a brief summary of where the Single Customer View originated and introduced some of the key areas that need to be considered carefully when embarking upon any program to introduce a Single Customer View within a business – definitions, data quality, risk, technical etc. Without trying to frighten anybody it must be understood that developing a Single Customer View will be a major undertaking for any business. So why do it?

Well I think there are a number of reasons why any business would benefit from a Single Customer View.

Customer Experience – Nobody likes to be “just a number”. We are people and we like to be treated as such. There is nothing more frustrating than calling a business only to be passed from department to department, repeatedly providing your details before you finally reach the person who can deal with your query. Having your customer data sitting in different databases (or Silos) that do not talk to each other is the root cause of such customer frustration. Bringing customer data together across multiple Silos and making it available in a consolidated format is what a Single Customer View is all about. Ultimately this consolidated view gives a business the opportunity to treat the customer as a customer rather than a series of entries in a series of databases. With a great many businesses offering very similar products / services at very similar prices very often it is the customer experience that differentiates.

Operational Efficiency РDirectly linked to the above improvement in customer experience are the operational efficiencies to be gained by having a centralised consolidated view of all business interactions with each individual customer. Reducing time consuming cross functional queries means that operatives can spend less time dealing with customer queries.

Improved Targeting –¬† Having an accurate view of each individual customer provides the ability to see exactly how that customer has interacted with your business over time, across functional areas and across product lines. This clearly gives the Marketing function the ability to deliver much more refined messages to each customer.

Reporting (BI / MI / Analytics) – How many customers have you got? What is your market share? What is the most popular combination of products? What is they the most popular repeat purchase? Who are your most profitable customers? Well quite simply, if you do not have a reliable customer view on which to hang all your transactions / interactions etc then you cannot answer those questions with any real certainty.

Fraud Prevention – Whilst arguably not a function of a Single Customer View, I have included this as it raises an interesting question regarding the underlying Match Engine involved in creating the Customer View. I have witnessed first hand the lengths that some people go to in order to adopt fictitious though “believable” alternate identities – switching 1st and 2nd names, using alternate spellings of forenames, using both married and maiden names, using spouses name etc etc… So a matching engine capable of being useful in fraud prevention not only has to be able to accurately identify matches (to identify duplicate customer data), it also has to be able to identify non-matches that could be matches. There will be more on this in subsequent posts. Suffice to say that when it comes to identifying matches not only is it necessary to answer the question “do they match” but also “how do they match”.

Regulatory Compliance – As a data owner / processor you have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the data you hold is up-to-date, relevant and accurate. Part of that should involve checking that you do not hold duplicated and/or conflicting data (including data permissions) against the same data subject, something that is vital when responding to a Subject Access Request.

In my next post I will be discussing what exactly is a customer and how this is different across different businesses and even how the view of a customer varies within a business.


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