The utopia of the 360 customer view


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How many times we heard the famous or infamous concept of the 360 customer view? How many marketing platform vendors list this as their core product functionalities?
Any CRM, DMP, CDP or marketing automation system claim be able to provide this, and indeed, it is one of the main requirement for many companies when looking to implement or deploy any of these solutions.
It is very true that during a lot of time, companies worked in silos, in isolated teams or departments, managing same customer information in different systems, and having duplication, or even worst, updating one system and not the other. This creates not only frustrations (inside and outside the company) but a blur and unclear vision of the real company asset: the customers.
The information is power, but only if this is relevant and updated. There is pretty common that different teams within the same company treat the customer in different ways. It could happen because not all try to meet same goal, or because each team manages different info. This was one of the big benefits of the digital transformation era, or how I like to call it, business transformation (because it is about set up/re-shape a business for the digital era). One of the main goal is break these silos and ensure information flows along the company, ensuring one single message toward customer, providing a unique end-to-end view. There is a long way to go yet, but there are several good examples or companies working in this direction. Having a single view of the customer, it is easier to increase the engagement, which will revert in higher profit/revenue for us. Customers want to be treated in a unique way, and have the best experience ever. This is not only for the purchase moment, but also about the awareness, pre-sales or post sales moments. We should consider the customer experience as a whole journey. As a consequence, actions should be customer driven (digitally or not), and not trigger by the company, when they think the customer is ready for certain message.
Companies faced similar problems with the sales methodologies, especially if we think in the opportunity management. It used to be described as how to progress deals along the funnel (updating the status) based on actions initiate by the sales rep. So if sales rep talked about quotes, it is supposed that customer is ready for the negotiation.
In some cases this patter already started to change. For example some marketing automation tools fire actions or communications, based on digital body language of the customer, instead fire them based on time, or when company is ready to communicate
The 360 customer view want to stop this approach. Having information about the customer, from different angles empower companies to personalize relationships, get higher engagement and increase revenue. At the very end, this is about being customer focus, and offer to the customer what they want or need, based on the existing background, and not fire communication or initiatives based on what the company thinks the customer wants or need.
The question at this point is, do we need to store and manager all the information we gathered to enable this potential? Do we need to have all the customer info in one single instance, data base or platform? Do we really need all the related customer info?
There is not a simple answer to these questions, and each case should be evaluated. It is not possible to create a universal solution and landscape with the one fits all approach.
Before to continue drilling down, there are a couple of points that should be taken into account as there are some of the triggers on this line of thinking regarding the 360 customer view:
-Electronic storage is cheaper and cheaper. Long time ago companies should think very careful what data store as the storage servers were not cheap. Now, not only prices drop off but also it is very easy access to this infrastructure. Even it is not needed to own it, the cloud computing technologies grant us access to very cheap storage utilities in few seconds, so scale up our needs it easy.
-Big data. This was the buzz word in any other conversation some months ago. All the companies should store and manage tons and tons of info. But really it that this is not as easy as it seems. It required specific skills/resources and then converted this info into actionable insights.

Some coming back to the main topic, the first question we should ask to ourselves is: what data do we really need and how will we use it?
Not all the info will be actionable for us. The info we would like to have at our finder tips (in the platform or system) is the one we will use as baseline for our actions. Have a good understanding of the customer is key, and this implies have a broad view, behind our own responsibilities, but not all the customer related data will be relevant to us.
In addition, we should be careful after the new GDPR kicked off. The amount of info we can store and manager will be monitored and controlled. The new approach is, store and manage the minimal data set you will work with. This set should be sufficient to take decision, fire actions and enable the personalization during the customer journey. So, it is important to map out the end-to-end customer journey and think upfront what kind of info do we want to have available in order to take decision and enable this personalization.
These internal discussion will give us the real scope or definition of our 360 customer view. Although no one said this should be fix, of course could be updated in the future if new requirements came in. we are working in an agile and dynamic environment, aren’t we?

The second question to discuss internally is: how often or urgent is all this mentioned data.
With the storage price drop off and easy of scale it up, organizations store info just in case it is needed in the future, without plans. I like to challenge this approach. If data is old, not fresh or updated is not useful. We should plan in advance not only what data to capture, but also how to maintain it or update it. We all know there are several automatic data feeds, from different sources, but what happen with the manually updated/created data? Data model should be actionable, if not let’s challenge the need of certain parts of it. It is better start small, and get it bigger as we growth and increase the data strategy maturity.
The answer to this second question gives us the correct set up or landscape we need to operationalize our activities.
Therefore, it is not matter to store everything in the same database, platform or system. What is key is understand what dataset will be useful and actionable, and create a plan to acquire, maintain, refresh and retain it. This data could be keep in different spots of our landscape, but should easily flow or trigger actions when needed. Integrations are very useful, and it one of the main trend concepts with any other system nowadays. But without a correct architecture in place, this could end up in multiple duplication of dataset across our landscape. At the end we are looking for the actions to be trigger and not the data itself.
These integrations are enabled via different mechanisms: native integration apps, files exchanges or API calls. Those last ones bring us the benefit of real time integration, but instead of retrieve data, we can retrieve signals or triggers for certain actions. In this case each system will keep and maintain certain data, but 360 customer view will be enable. The integrated systems is the best solution for the process automation. Let’s reinforce the message, if we really want to be customer centric, we have to start acting like that.

Jaime Jimenez
Dynamic and Results-Driven Leader | Empowering Organisational Growth and Digital Innovation. Experienced leader with a proven track record of driving organisational growth and scaling up digital initiatives with a keen eye for designing and implementing new business capabilities powered by cutting-edge technology. I specialise in bridging the gap between business and IT domains, maximising business impact and revenue while ensuring sustainable growth. Opinions are my own.


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