How to create a single customer view (SCV)
Technology gives businesses access to a vast amount of customer data, but it’s only helpful if your teams can easily access, interpret, and use it. Overlapping data, inconsistent or outdated information, or incomplete customer profiles make it difficult to create outstanding user experiences.
Creating a single customer view allows you to unify all the data you have for each individual customer in one profile, allowing you to target potential buyers and serve existing customers more strategically. An SCV enables marketers, sales reps, and customer service team members to tailor customer journeys to each individual’s needs.
To help you create SCVs, this post will cover:
- What is a single customer view?
- Benefits of a single customer view
- How to create a single customer view
- Potential issues for creating a single customer view
What is a single customer view?
A single customer view (SCV) is a unified summary of all the data you have about a customer or prospect. It is sometimes referred to as a 360-degree view or unified customer view (UCV). An SCV allows businesses to see the history of a user’s interactions with a brand so you can improve customer journeys and enhance the customer experience.
Benefits of a single customer view
There are a lot of reasons to create and maintain single customer views. Your sales and marketing teams will discover unique benefits of their own, but there are some that are common to every team in any industry.
Easier access to data
Since an SCV displays all your customer information in one place, you reduce the risk of data silos — where certain knowledge is accessible by one team but not others. An SCV allows every team in your organization to quickly access the data they need to serve a buyer at any stage of the customer journey.
Better multitouch attribution
Multitouch attribution allows you to assign the appropriate weight to customer interactions along a buying journey. An SCV lets you see how individual customers are influenced across each channel and determine which marketing efforts are doing well or underperforming. Then you can build more accurate customer journey maps to better inform how you design future campaigns.
An SCV gives you the power of individualized customer profiles with in-depth histories, which allows you to better personalize marketing experiences, sales conversations, and customer service issues. And since these profiles update in real-time, you always have the most relevant information to ensure every customer experience is excellent.
Improved customer service
SCVs give customer service representatives the real-time data they need to view a customer’s historical relationship with a brand. When a buyer calls with a problem, the representative knows how long they’ve been a customer, their purchase history, if they’ve called before, and what the call was about — even if the rep hasn’t spoken with them before. Having access to these details not only helps resolve issues quicker, but it also makes a customer feel remembered which improves their overall experience, brand trust, and loyalty.
How to create a single customer view
The design or format of a single customer view is unique to every business. The steps you take to build them also depend on your industry, the type of customers you serve, and your business’s current use of CRMs or CDPs. Here are some general steps that all businesses should follow to make creating an SCV as efficient as possible.
1. Take stock of your existing data and customer journey
The first step to creating a single customer view is to take stock of all your customer data and its internal owners. Have each team conduct its own audit of data sources, including data warehouses, point of sale (POS) systems, email marketing software, and customer support platforms. Identify what data is being collected, how and where it’s being stored, and who has access to it.
During this process, align your teams on shared goals. Make sure that all relevant parties across departments understand what data is being collected and where it needs to go from now on.
With all your data located and properly unified across departments, review your customer journey map. This will help you visualize how customers interact with different channels and get to different steps in their buying process. To do this you’ll want to:
- Set goals. The goals of your customer journey need to reflect your organization’s goals and align with the metrics you’re already using.
- Define personas. Know which customer personas you want to target. The more specific you can be the better.
- Determine touchpoints. Identify all the touchpoints your buyers will interact with along their journey. This is the foundation for your customer journey.
- Map the current buyer journey. Be sure to consider every possible variation a customer could take.
- Map the ideal buyer journey. This is the path you want the buyer to take. Knowing the gaps between your preferred customer journey and the actual one will help you understand where your marketing and sales efforts are misaligned.
Understanding your customer journey map helps you understand what data you are currently collecting and uncover any gaps. Any weak or uncertain areas of your customer journey are an indicator that you could use more high quality data for that touchpoint.
2. Evaluate software
Evaluate your current software or start shopping for a new one, like a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, customer data platform (CDP), or data management platform (DMP). To decide whether your current system will work or if you need a new one consider:
- Tools your team is using. Evaluate whether your current software is capable of creating an SCV. If you are looking at a new system you’ll need to know if it’s compatible with what your team is already using or causes any redundancies.
- Cross functionality. You can further simplify the customer data management process by using a software that multiple teams across different departments and functions can apply to their segment of the customer journey.
- New data sets. Finding new data will help fill gaps in your customer profiles. The better data you have access to the greater the visibility you have into the touchpoints a single customer interacts with.
3. Integrate your data
Start integrating the data you’ve collected into your system. Audit the data to uncover any inconsistencies and resolve them. Then, begin integrating systems like your data warehouse, POS, and call center into a centralized place.
If you are unsure what customer data you need to create a holistic customer profile start by looking at:
- Demographics like age and gender
- Contact information including email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses
- Purchase history such as single purchases or subscriptions
- Behavioral data like social media and search history
- Customer support history on previous issues they’ve contacted your business about and the method of contact they used
- Customer preferences such as clothing sizes, when they respond to promotional materials, color preferences, and which channel they engage with the most
Don’t worry if your customer profiles look bare at first. The initial scope of your profiles depends on the data you already have but they will grow over time.
4. Resolve customer identities
Identity resolution means creating customer profiles and assigning individual data points to the correct profiles. Without this step, customers may show up as duplicate interactions and appear to be separate people. This is especially true when dealing with anonymous and semi-anonymous data, which can be even more challenging to fix.
Use an identity matching system to properly track down all the data points and semi-anonymous data that correspond to each individual customer. Give each piece of customer data an identifier to link information to the right customer. For example, you may have identifiers for email addresses, credit card information, IP address, and more.
This is a crucial step in creating a single customer view as it ensures you have data organized correctly and can use it to improve the customer experience.
5. Test your system
If you are implementing a new centralized system, run tests to make sure that it’s collecting, organizing, and displaying correctly. Start with smaller sets of data and work your way up so that you can more easily identify problems.
Whether you are implementing a new system or using your current one to create an SCV it’s important to regularly test its functionality. This will be an ongoing process that helps you quickly pinpoint issues with data linking and real-time updates before they cause problems.
6. Provide access to relevant teams
Share your SCV with relevant internal teams, including marketing, sales, customer service, and product development. Be sure to grant everyone access to real-time updates so they always have the most up-to-date data for helping customers along the buyer journey.
Work with key leaders across each team to establish a data governance strategy so everyone is on the same page about how data is collected, stored, processed, and accessed by team members.
Potential issues for creating a single customer view
You may face hurdles when auditing your current customer data systems and implementing new tools to create a single customer view. Some hurdles are out of your control, like state legislation that limits consumer data collection. Other challenges you can control, and being aware of them will help you manage difficulties.
One of the biggest challenges to establishing SCVs is finding software that integrates with older systems. It may not be in your budget to completely overhaul your data management systems. But sticking with outdated systems makes it harder for modern CRMs and CDPs to access the real-time data they need to provide a single customer view. If possible, it is worth the long-term investment to update systems for easier data management.
It can be time-consuming to reconcile siloed data from different internal departments. Disconnected data makes it harder to create a single customer view, because each team only has access to certain sets of information relevant to their key performance indicators (KPIs). Make sure you set aside time and set reasonable expectations for team members who will be helping.
With data silos also comes inconsistency. Where data points do overlap, some teams may have up-to-date information while others do not. This issue makes it harder to clean the data because you need to determine which information is correct or the most recent. Establish a clear process for reconciling data inconsistencies before you get started.
Get started with single customer view
A single customer view can help your business better utilize client data to personalize their experiences at every stage of the journey. An SCV also makes it more efficient for team members to access accurate data, correctly attribute that data to individual consumers, and provide better customer service.
After you gain a solid understanding of your current customer data and journey maps, choose a CRM that will help you collect data at different stages in the buyer journey and a CDP that unifies your customer data into individual account profiles that update in real time. Both tools will make creating a SCV that much easier.
Adobe Real-Time CDP collects and unifies all your known and unknown data into customer profiles, in real time. With the ability to integrate with other systems you can seamlessly connect with your existing software, allowing you to eliminate data silos and create accurate and up-to-date SCVs.
Watch the overview video or take an interactive tour to learn more about how Real-Time CDP collects B2C and B2B data from across systems and unifies it into real-time profiles ready for activation across any channel.