What is Single Customer View and why it is important

Modern Enterprise Retailers handle a huge amount of customer information. Just a couple of decades ago, retailers barely owned data about their customers. Most purchases were paid in cash and no record was kept of who bought what. Most marketing communications were transmitted through massive media such as television or radio, which made it very difficult to know who was impacted and what was the ROI.
Single Customer View_ example of customer card

Things are very different today.

Nowadays, technology facilitates keeping a record of online and offline purchases, so that retailers can know in great detail their customers’ profiles, habits and preferences.

But applying this information has actually become mandatory. Customers expect companies to use their data to personalize and improve their shopping experiences. They want to receive personalized offers, coherent communication across channels, recommendations that truly fit their preferences, and only relevant information. In short, they expect personalization.

So basically, digitalization has both enabled and forced Enterprise Retailers to better understand their customers and personalize their buying experience.

The problem is retailers have access to huge amount of data, but many of them still lack the technology and strategy to make good use of it.

But that can change today, and it starts with the creation of a Single Customer View.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Single Customer View?

A Single Customer View, also called a unified customer view,  is an accurate, consistent and holistic record of the data held by a company about its customers, and can be viewed in one place.

A Single Customer View collects 3 types of data:

  • Demographic data: includes profile data such as gender, age, address, household data, etc.
  • Transactional data: includes purchases, dates, abandoned carts, returns, product value, etc.
  • Behavioral data: includes data from web visits, mobile app and in-store, such as most-visited products and categories, number of pages/stores visited, interactions, preferred channels, lifestyle, etc.
Single Customer View

What are the benefits of having a Single Customer View?

Single Customer Views allow cross-functional teams within retail companies to provide personalized customer experiences that take into consideration the data from the vaious touchpoints.

Benefits for marketing teams: Understand customers to drive lifetime value through granular targeting across channels

As the volume of customer data created increases, data management solutions can enable marketers to not only consolidate this data, but to activate it in order to create experiences that drive and foster loyalty. This loyalty doesn’t only come through basic personalisation such as using the first name in an email, but includes tailored communications based on an accurate, holistic and real-time view of the customer.

A Single Customer View helps marketers to market more efficiently and effectively, because of the ability it gives marketing teams to understand and analyse past behavior to better target and personalize future campaigns and promotions.

In short:

A SCV is especially relevant where organizations engage with customers through multichannel marketing , since customers expect those interactions to reflect a consistent understanding of their history and preferences.

Benefits for data teams: Ensure reliable foundation for privacy compliance and data security

From a legal stand point, a single customer view has become mandatory, as complying with privacy regulations is virtually impossible without one.

One of the big challenges for modern retailers – particular in markets like Europe where data privacy laws are super strict – is that customers can give and retract consent to use their data at any time, and across a wide variety of channels. And just like any other data point, their consent is sitting in silos.

A Single Customer View comes to the rescue, resolving consent decisions and preferences at an individual level for a clear picture of what the retailer can and can’t do with this data.

Data privacy standards have raised the bar by the combination of regulation changes (such as GDPR and CCPA), policy changes from big tech (such as Google and Apple) and consumer mistrust due to data breaches and misuse.

This means marketers are looking closely at data collection and how they can forge relationships with customers based on the available data.

CDP solutions are increasingly being used to address and the new privacy landscape, because these platforms can enable brands to store all of a customer’s consent and preference data in a unified profile, making it easier to govern and orchestrate to other systems.

In turn, with the knowledge that their data is being managed and used correctly, trust can be increased – a vital factor for loyalty in today’s retail landscape and beyond.

Benefits for customer service: Provide first-class customer service with up-to-date data

A SCV improves customer experience and boosts loyalty by empowering a retailers CS agents to deliver faster, more consistent answers.

With the help of a centralized knowledge base that holds all product, transaction and customer information, agents can resolve issues with the highest satisfaction rates.

How to build a Single Customer View?

These are the 5 essential steps to upgrade your retail operation to the highest level of performance.

STEP 1: Find the right tech

A Customer Data Platform is a powerful software that collects your customer data from all offline and online sources and makes it available for activation.

A CDP empowers your company to not only manage data in a compliant and structured way, but also to be able to efficiently deliver targeted, personalized experiences at scale across the entire customer journey, so that you can drive more sales and unlock the true potential of your customers.

CDP vs CRM vs DMP

STEP 2: Upgrade your team with data professionals

Many retailers acknowledge the need to become data-centric.

Doing so is in no way an easy task, which is why retailers have recently considered the need to fill a new position in their teams called “Head of Data”.

In order to leverage the powerful asset of SCVs, you might want to onboard other roles dedicated to data, such as data managers, data analysts and data migration specialists.

STEP 3: Identify Data Sources

Identifying data sources can be the most difficult aspect of consolidating to a SCV.

Modern retailers need to gather information from a multitude of sources, including all digital interactions with the brand and interactions at point of sale.

STEP 4: Resolve customer identities

Identity resolution is the process of matching identifiers across touchpoints and devices to a single profile. This process is mandatory in order to build a cohesive, omnichannel view of a retail customer, enabling brands to deliver relevant promotions and offers throughout the customer journey.

Retail companies also need to handle industry-specific challenges, such as household accounts and duplicate profiles.

STEP 5: Make the synthesized data available across the organization

A CDP allows your retail business to design, launch and manage hyper targeted marketing actions based on the information collected, the segments created and the insights extracted.

For example, your single customer views are turned into action through website personalization, targeted offers, personalized loyalty initiatives, tailored product recommendations and more.

What are the main obstacles to creating a Single Customer View?

OBSTACLE #1: Data silos

A data silo is a stand-alone system that’s controlled by one department or business unit and isolated from the rest of an organization or incompatible with other data sets or systems. They tend to arise naturally in large companies because separate business units may operate independently and have their own goals, priorities and IT budgets. Data silos hinder business operations and limit the ability of teams to make informed business decisions.

OBSTACLE #2: Inaccurate or inconsistent data

Achieving a Single Customer View can be difficult, because anomalies or discrepancies in the customer data must be cleansed for data quality. Data silos lead to duplicate data on different platforms and processes, which increases spending and inefficient use of IT resources.

OBSTACLE #3: Compliance and privacy concerns

Having a Single Customer View that contains cleansed, legal and accurate information is a great step towards being compliant and mitigating the risk of breaching CDPR or CCPA regulations or detecting, reporting and preventing a personal data breach.

OBSTACLE #4: Legacy technical infrastructure

Legacy systems are often essential pieces of a retailer’s tech infrastructure, but maintaining them comes at a steep price.

Generally, they are highly complex and weren’t designed to interface well with other pieces of technology.

As a consequence, enterprise retailers end up with a multilayered architecture of software and connectors designed in a different era to solve a different set of challenges – and are not well suited to handle the demands of retailers today.

How do you measure the ROI of a Single Customer View?

OPPORTUNITY #1: Better targeting of your most profitable customers

A Single Customer View highlights the customers that are the most valuable to a retailer, allowing the organization to concentrate marketing efforts on this group, optimize marketing budgets, and improve business outcomes.

OPPORTUNITY #2: Fewer costly mistakes

By consolidating data from multiple silos, retailers decrease the likelihood of making errors that can affect budget and reputation, such as sending duplicate, irrelevant messages. These mistakes lead to dissatisfied and disengaged customers.

OPPORTUNITY #3: Happier, more loyal customers

Customers who feel appreciated and special because of personalized communication are more likely to engage again, re-purchase, sign up to loyalty programs and be more positive about the brand overall.

OPPORTUNITY #4: Better attribution of sales to marketing campaigns

By unifying online and offline data, a retailer can better attribute sales and conversions to specific marketing investments to prove ROI, and as a consequence, focus their marketing investments where they matter most.

How do I get the business to commit to a Single Customer View?

A Single Customer View will require input from IT, Finance and Operations as well as Marketing, and these departments will have different requirements.

Although these requirements will add complexity to the SCV build, the sharing of cross-departmental data to achieve a holistic view is vital for accurate matching, enrichment and suppression of data.

Understanding the database from the perspective of each business department is essential, so make the expectations of the project clear upfront, both in terms of the ownership and purpose of an SCV.

Conclusion

Nowadays companies have a huge amount of information, at no other time in history have they had to handle so much data as they have today. Customers are aware of this reality and expect brands to use their data to improve their shopping experiences: they want to receive personalized services, omnichannel shopping experiences, relevant recommendations and information about their interests. In short, they want to feel important to companies.

A Customer Data Platform is a software that allows you to create a unified and persistent database of your customers that can be easily accessed by other technologies. It is a system that labels, and unifies customer data from different sources, creating a complete 360º customer profile or Single Customer View.

Loyal Guru is the unbeatable data, loyalty & personalization solution for retail. Our platform handles the specific data collection and data activation challenges of enterprise retailers, no ad-hoc development needed.

If you’re a retailer and you’d like to talk about any of the loyalty program strategies outlined in this article in more detail, then get in touch with our team to learn more. We’ll be happy to show you examples or talk through your brand’s unique challenges.