Loading Jaywing website
21 May 2020 / Opinion

Inside the next generation single customer view

Martin Smith / Director of Strategy and Innovation

Today, data multiplies like never before. But so have the means of navigating it. Understanding it. And harnessing its power. It’s well known that being able to link data across devices, products and silos is the starting point for a single customer view (SCV). But building that into a genuine 360 degree view of customer behaviour is tough.  And once you’ve got it… what do you do next?

What we used to regard as a SCV was often simply linking together purchases or bookings made separately, or bringing together accounts or products which are managed on different systems. Even today, the data generated from physical touch-points, such as a call or in-store visit, usually exist in a completely different domain to online touch-points.

Add to that the availability of data from many more different sources. And you quickly see the challenge of bringing together a much wider range of data across a greater number of customer touchpoints.

Yet online touch-points offer an increasingly rich view because they contain not only what the customer purchased, but also which products the customer searched for, viewed, and considered. There are even clues as to why the purchase wasn’t made, for example an order stopping at the point of product specifications, delivery charges or delivery dates.

Unified data is not necessarily usable data

If you’re the kind of organisation whose customers keep their records updated (such as utilities or finance), that works ok. But if you’re not, over time you might start to notice that customers have moved house, switched email or changed names without telling you. It can quickly put a hole in your contact list. Even the biggest data companies have problems keeping tabs on who’s who – and they end up with a lot of duplicates, a constant process of merging and cleansing, and a frequently shifting 'unique' identifier, which turns out to be anything but.

Yet, creating a unique persistent customer ID is only one aspect of the single customer view.  Customers’ activity is complex: we are influenced by people we know, we buy for ourselves as well as other people, and we browse and research without purchasing. Sometimes, we book in groups but pay through a lead booker.  And sometimes we even use slightly different versions of our names, or different email accounts, to interact with a brand.

So if you’re building your single customer view only from sales or contact data, you’re not just missing half the picture, you’re probably missing most of the picture that’s available. And if you’re looking at customers only through a product or channel lens, you’re only hearing a fraction of the whole story.

Moving from channel-led to customer-led

Data proliferates across multiple devices and different channels which can be attached to customers with varying levels of confidence. Is the person who researched a product by phone the same person who placed the order on a laptop? What about shared devices, shared email, even shared social media accounts?

With all this choice, and faced with the demands of GDPR, you have a number of challenges:

  • Customer don’t interact with you in siloes, so treating data in siloes means making decisions based on pockets of information in different parts of the business, often leading to poor choice of messaging and inconsistent messages being sent to the customer.
  • Incomplete data collection results in inaccurate measurement, which leads to poor decisions and also gives rise to poor attribution. The problem of channels claiming sales they only played a modest part in attracting, and of vendors ‘marking their own homework.’

We get it. Even if you have a data repository in place there are probably some key sources of missing data. Like detailed use of websites or display ad impressions. But that, along with social data, just got harder with increasing lock downs on third-party cookies, browsers getting more choosy about what they share, and some marketing activity happening within the walled gardens of social media platforms. Luckily these problems can be solved.

So what can you do to push forward?

Five essential practices to create a next generation SCV

By adopting more advanced analytics, you can draw more valuable insights with relative ease. Here are five essential practices that lead to a next generation single customer view:

1. Comprehensive data built from known individuals

Start with the basics: the people you know. Make sure their data is clean and consistent. Develop matching routines that pull customer records together from the information they’ve provided, and put score-based matching in place to handle unknowns. Use only the most up-to-date records or the information from the most reliable systems for contact. Use third party cleansing services if needed, and keep your data up to date with careful consideration of GDPR compliance.

2. Retention and use of anonymous data

Some information, such as browsing data, might start out anonymously - but even then it can tell you a lot about customers’ purchasing journeys, product associations, purchasing barriers etc. If you can match it subsequently when a customer registers or purchases, it transforms the entire history of what you know about your customer from a thin sliver of sales data at the time of purchase to a long and detailed list of interactions over time that tells you what drove them to purchase.

3. Link across sessions

Use matching techniques with longer cookie windows to identify clients undertaking a lengthier research phase. Identify resumed baskets. Use device fingerprinting to fill in any gaps, and look for same-page jumps from associated devices to identify where the customer has resumed a search from another device.

4. Link across devices

For cross device matching, look for opportunities to establish the link from within your data: the browsing session that results in an email address capture; the outbound email campaign which results in a click on a device you haven’t associated the customer with before.

5. Link all relevant data

The fullest picture is difficult to achieve but worth it. Look for matches within households, data sources that match loyalty card holders to baskets, online shoppers to in-store visitors. Track your display and PPC impressions and clicks, and add these into the mix too.  Link your offline data to your contact centre, sales, and CRM systems.

What does it enable?

Our approach provides the foundation for a true one-to-one relationship with a customer. Where you can understand how a customer chooses to interact with you and which products are most likely to be of interest. The next generation single customer view permits data scientists to understand or infer customer behaviour from the first online interaction to the most recent in-store visit, and every touch-point in between. Providing models marketers can use to increase sales.

What happens next is up to you, but here are some thoughts:

  • Advanced, person-level attributionunderstand the real value of every touchpoint on the way to a sale, not just the last click, modelling in the impacts of TV ads and social media interaction.
  • Integrated CRM and Display Advertising; opens up a personalised communications channel for customers who have opted out of email marketing
  • Truly personalised marketing; is only possible when you have a full view of the customer’s interactions. Targeted offers, personalised communications and a tailored online experience are made possible.
  • Predictive modelling and segmentation; are the only way to take a broad enough view of the data in order to create valuable tools for a marketer to use to increase sales, e.g. identifying the next best action and understanding the people most likely to lapse, re-purchase or drop out of the sales process.

In summary

With a next generation SCV, you’ll begin to more easily understand who your customers are, how they’re engaging with content, what they’re buying, where they’re buying it, and more, on a minute-by-minute basis. The faster you can analyse and act on customer data, the faster your business will grow.

Good customer experience minimises friction, maximises speed and efficiency and maintains a human element. It leaves consumers feeling heard, seen and appreciated. And it has tangible impact that can be measured through data-driven attribution and soaring service levels.

How do you achieve this level of humanisation? One key tool for doing this is the right customer data platform (CDP). It can help you to segment your audiences, humanise your content, and deliver experiences at the right time in the right channels, and personalise customer engagements from end to end. Channels are dissolving, and what matters now more than ever is a brand’s ability to provide frictionless brand experiences, wherever and whenever a consumer happens to interact with your brand.

The winners know this.  And there’s no going back now.