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Bringing the Original Frontier into the Digital Age

Most marketers can agree that the explosion of technology has driven us to one common goal – the single view of the customer. And many marketers have already achieved that single view, but then what? How are we acting on it?

Marketers need to use the single view of customer, deploy it to all touchpoints, and execute against it. We are spending so much time, energy and resources on collecting the data, that we are forgetting to act. That’s the danger of all these point solutions – easy to collect data, not so easy to execute against it.

To be fair, there are marketers using this single view, but they are overinvesting in the digital space. Digital marketing is cheaper and drives revenue quickly, so there’s less resistance. People are terrified by security and privacy, but they don’t realize that it makes no difference whether you’re exposing PII in a nanosecond or through a secure account. Their information is still out there, ready for digital technology to capture and use quickly, cheaply, and with some results. But, digital channels do not create a complete customer experience.

Customer Portfolios has evolved out of direct and database marketing. We leverage our single view of customer, the Customer Profile, to execute targeted omni-channel lifecycle marketing every day. But because of our roots, we also know there are still two very important touchpoints that are being overlooked – the brick and mortar store and the customer service call center.


Retail stores were the original frontier, where marketing and selling all started. Now, in 2019, we are trying to bring old brick-and-mortar into the digital age by delivering the single view of customer to the point-of-sale system in the store. After all for most omni-channel retailers, 90-95% of revenue is still generated in physical stores. It’s a big part of the brand and experience. Face to face interaction is important, in-person customer service is important. But it’s the touchpoint that is the least supported by the advancements of technology and intelligence.

Most POS systems are legacy systems. They’ve been around for a long time, are most likely out of date, and are way too expensive to just replace. Because of this, associates and managers are flying blind in the stores. They have no idea whether they are talking to a First Time Buyer or long term Best Customer – can’t see it, can’t leverage it. Customers are going to be nice and patient with associates, but if you’re spending $1k a year with a brand, you should be treated special.

Associates need to have a zippy fast lookup capability in stores, delivered in a user-friendly way. Many retailers are not performing lookups because they take too long and are impacting the customer experience. One way around this obstacle is to use location technology to enable an automatic lookup. Say a Best Customer adds their digital loyalty card to their phone. When the customer comes within proximity to the store, the system automatically looks them up and pulls up their profile. The profile can be delivered to the associate POS tablet as the customer crosses the threshold. Now, the associate can begin the interaction with the customer quickly and in a more relevant way.

By bringing the single view of the customer in store, associates can treat every customer like a VIP, and build one-to-one relationships that create true loyalty.

Call Center

Call centers rely on what they call a CRM system, but in reality, it’s actually a contact management system. There is no bringing together the data to help representatives develop relationships with their customers. The primary focus of the customer service system is to make customer service calls more efficient, resolve problems and complete calls quickly.

Imagine you called a customer service rep because you had an issue with your order. The first thing you hear is an automated voice, trying to sort your call and give the service rep some more information. You finally get to a real person, and they ask for more information. This isn’t the core system – if you’ve never called before, you’re net new and they are creating a totally separate record. The service rep logs your call, logs your issue, and follows a sequence to try to provide a solution. They are toggling between the POS system, the OMS system, and the net new record in their system, trying to figure out what’s going on and keep you from becoming even more frustrated. It’s not an easy job!

To make their jobs easier, customer service reps should have access to do a lookup and quickly retrieve the single view of the customer within their interface. Reps should be able to see all relevant contact information about the customer, all previous purchases they have made regardless of channel, all recent marketing communications and offers, and as well as current product recommendations. Most core systems already have a UI, and with API calls, the single view of the customer can be an expansion to an existing UI that representatives are already trained on.

When the representative has this full view of the customer, they will be able to turn what is typically a frustrating experience into a positive one that will generate future revenue.

Whether you are engaging your customer in the store or in the call center, do you really know who that customer is? Retail is not going away, it’s becoming more experiential. The mailbox is still full of catalogs, the inbox is still full of emails, and the call center phones are still ringing. The overall retail experience most continue to get better to compete. People still want these traditional touchpoints, so retail marketers, associates and representatives should have the same single view of customer to deliver a winning omnichannel experience.