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Fixing the Broken Customer Experience: The Single Customer View

Single Customer View

Marketing and the customer experience have always been siloed, and the single customer view was elusive. Remember a typical multichannel retailer in the early 2000s; it had hundreds of stores, it had a well-established catalog and new ecommerce website. At that time, very few companies were collecting customer information in their stores, Radio Shack and Toys R Us being two of the exceptions.

On the other hand, customer information was being collected for catalog and ecommerce purchases. If I bought online or through the catalog, I had to provide my name and address to get my product delivered. In the catalog silo, marketers used purchase behavior to create an RFM score to rank and filter the catalog list for the next mailing. In the ecommerce silo, marketers were collected email addresses and blasting away with broadcast email messaging. Customer information was disparate or non-existing, analytically underutilized and personalization not yet a thing.

Direct marketing including the catalog and the ecommerce website began to integrate and consolidate its respective data to create marketing databases. Segmentation, targeted marketing and closed-loop processes continues to mature but more than 95% of their revenue was made in the brick and mortar stores. I could get a certain level of personalized attention through direct marketing channels, but if I walked into a store, I was just another face in the crowd. I might be a prospect, a one-time buyer, or a best customer, and that sales manager in the store had no idea.

The Challenge

We set out to solve the Single View of Customer (SVC) problem 17 years ago, and it still remains a challenge today. But the challenge has gotten tougher, because of the explosion of digital technology. We no longer describe it as multichannel, but omnichannel, and there are more touchpoints through which we can collect customer data. The technologies across the digital ecosystem have expanded and are very siloed. Search, digital advertising, social marketing, and mobile marketing are separate siloed channels. And you still have email, catalogs, and you still have stores.

Part of the problem is just the way technology evolves through investment capital. The easiest way to guarantee a return on capital investment is to create a point solution, typically web-based, that is simple to demonstrate, sell and implement. It usually involves a pixel data collector, a database engine, a sexy user interface, and dashboard reporting. And it typically serves a single channel. Investment capital and software companies get rich, but your company now has another data island. We’ve created more data points, we have more data than ever, but it’s not unified, and we’re not treating the customer consistently across all those touchpoints.

The Solution

Most marketers today are speaking about Customer Data Platform (CDP), and or Single View of the Customer (SVC), which represent the lynch pins to speaking relevantly to customers across all touch points. We call it the Customer Profile, in which we have everything we know about a given consumer all packaged together and connected to an identity system that would allow us to share it across all these touch points.

We have this single view of the customer, but now it must be shared across the digital network. Marketers need to deliver the holistic intelligence back to all touchpoints, including their stores where the revenue is and to their call centers where we speak to customers directly. We also need to leverage this intelligence better across our digital channels to make our advertising, messages and offers more relevant to the customers we are addressing. Marketers need to hone their message, timing and channel to speak to the consumers the way they deserve to be spoken to. Trusted brands should never be irrelevant or creepy.

We must deliver the customer profile intelligence to every touch point when it is needed to fix the broken experience. Let’s go!


Augie discusses the broken customer experience and the single customer view on CRM Radio; click here to listen to his podcasts.