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What is a Single Customer View and why retailers need one?

Single Customer View: it's a term you've probably heard being banded around. It's not a new term yet it's a still sought by retailers who want to deliver a positive and relevant shopping experience to their customers. A Single Customer View is a technology- and data-related capability. To us, it works on two levels:

1. Single Customer View - to manage inbound communications

For the customer support agent a Single Customer View provides them with a means to manage inbound communications from customers in one place. They therefore have a single view on all customer communications. Software like Zendesk and DeskPro allow agents to respond quickly and consistently to any customer query regardless of channel. These software services funnel customer communications sent to email addresses, Twitter and Facebook posts and live chat questions, all into one place. In this case the Single Customer View makes the lives of those customer support agents quicker, by enabling efficient processes.

2. Single Customer View - to enable relevant communications

So a Single Customer View saves time, but at a broader level it enables relevance.  If used well it can turn customer service into a fast and efficiently responding team, into a powerful sales channel. How? When the software used to manage inbound communications in one place also gets fed with additional contextual information about each customer that allows the agent to respond in the most relevant manner. Being able to identify and acknowledge (in an appropriate way), high potential value and existing VIP customers can be of material benefit when nurturing such customers.

So this second definition of Single Customer View is one which gives a retail organisation a clear and consistent profile of each of its customers. It can tell you what a customer has browsed, bought, their demographic profile, response to campaigns and in some cases their social preferences and activity. Blocks of customer data sit in different systems and the Single Customer View is the hoover which sucks them all up and links them together so they can be viewed in one place.

This means that a Single Customer View is not just useful in the context of responding to inbound communications. It’s also useful in making outbound communications more engaging and personal. Using the information effectively means that a business can better tailor its communications to convert more customers as the marketing will be relevant to them. Similarly, the same information can be used to retain customers who may be thinking of taking their business elsewhere.

Getting the most from a Single Customer View

Insight enables the most relevant combination of inbound and outbound communications. This allows a customer support agent to know that a customer is a VIP or a gift purchaser or has already received a heavy discount on their order. Although there are tools that can be used to find out certain information, a third-party vendor may be able to offer a more thorough and robust solution. Identifying if a customer is a VIP or high potential value can be tricky. This requires analytical programmes which can sit alongside the Single Customer View, mining it to generate useful insights; ideally predictive in nature. Smart retail CRM systems will do this automatically.

 

And remember a Single Customer View is only as good as the information it holds. The ultimate is one that is able to connect to external communication systems allowing action to be taken. This enables customer service queries, emails, text messages, postal mail and social media campaigns to work on a more personal level.