Article updated on: 7 September 2023
Understanding how your customers behave and shop has never been more critical. With online advertising budgets going into hundreds of thousands (if not millions) – you can’t afford to play the guessing game about who your customers are and what they respond to.
But this is easier said than done. With modern customers becoming more demanding – not to mention digitally savvy – it can feel as if there’s always a new channel or touchpoint that you need to introduce. Meaning there’s even more data for you to collect.
That’s where the 360-degree customer view comes into play. It enables seamless and personalized experiences by giving you a comprehensive insight into your customer’s behaviors, preferences, and needs across every twist and turn of their journey.
What we’ll cover:
What is a 360-degree View of Customers?
The 360-degree customer view is a deep understanding of a customer’s history, behaviors, and interactions with a business across all touchpoints and channels.
At its core, it represents the result of an organization’s efforts to gather insights from different data sources, such as:
- e-commerce transactions
- website visits
- social media interactions
- customer service inquiries
- mobile app engagements
- email communications
Businesses construct a comprehensive profile for each customer by integrating these data points, forming a narrative that highlights customer interactions and relationships with the brand.
What is the Purpose of Customer 360?
The 360 customer data view aims to increase customer engagement, personalize interactions, and improve the overall experience. In short, it serves as a roadmap to customer loyalty. Here’s how.
The 360-degree customer view is about understanding the reasons behind customer choices. It explains why someone bought a product late at night or left their shopping cart before paying.
And once you understand how they feel throughout their customer journey, you can empathize and provide value that goes beyond a transactional relationship. Empathy is essential for your business success as it fosters long-term customer loyalty and emotional engagement with your brand.
It allows you to craft messages that resonate, ads that feel like friendly suggestions, and promotions that match what customers truly want.
Additionally, the 360-view helps break down data silos, bridging gaps between different departments and systems, and synthesizing information into a unified view.
In the next section, we’ll talk about the benefits in more detail.
Benefits of 360 Customer View
The main benefits of the 360 customer view are a personalized customer experience, consistency across time and channels, predictive analytics, better collaboration between departments, and improved customer service.
Let’s cover each one in more detail.
Personalized Customer Experience
In today’s crowded market – where your competition is just one click away – providing unique and personalized experiences is vital. Unifying your data into a 360-degree view of the customer lets you see all their previous engagements with your brand. This data helps your teams tailor their approach to each new interaction to provide the best possible experience.
For example, your in-store employees can easily see the products a customer looked at online and provide personalized suggestions or special offers based on that information. This will make the customer feel understood (remember, empathy is crucial), leading to long-term brand loyalty.
As the use of generative AI in marketing grows, you will be able to automate more and more of these operations making sure you can personalize each touchpoint in real-time. For example, the system can generate the website image and description of your product so that they are best suited to the profile of the customer looking at them.
Consistency Across Time and Channels
Take a moment and imagine yourself entering a McDonald’s. You stand in line, look through your favorites, and make an order. The chance is you can almost feel the smell of fries being made – right?
That’s why people love McDonald’s – consistency. You can walk into one anywhere on the planet, and you’ll likely get the same level of service and food that looks and tastes the same.
The 360 view of the customer ensures you have the data you need to provide the same quality of service over time, no matter the channel customers use to engage with you.
Data on past interactions is vital here. It will allow your team to pick up on things that resonated with your customers before and provide additional value with every interaction.
All of this combines into a great customer experience that – when delivered time and time again – will cement your brand in the customer’s mind.
Predicting Customer Behavior
The 360 customer view is not only helpful in showing past interactions. It can put them in context and help you predict where your customer is going.
This foresight will help you stay one step ahead of their needs and expectations, ensuring you are always there to answer them. It can even help you polish your customer journey and provide relevant services through upselling or cross-selling.
But there is also a bigger picture here. By knowing where your customers as a group are heading, you can adapt your product or service line (or introduce a new one) to stay relevant and ensure your market position in the long run.
Better Cross-Department Collaboration
Our recent article on customer experience trends mentions how important it is for all your departments to work together to provide a great end-to-end customer experience.
Having all your customer data in a single place – available to everyone – helps teams pass on information more easily. This fosters collaboration, ensuring that everyone works together towards a common goal.
Working in-step is especially crucial for marketing and sales teams, as they must share the same customer view and operate on the same data sets.
Improved Customer Support
Having insights into a comprehensive customer profile helps the support team address their current challenges and anticipate unexpressed needs. This proactive approach resolves potential concerns swiftly and creates a sense of care that appeals to the customers.
Moreover, this streamlined support minimizes the need for customers to repeat information or navigate frustrating escalations. That makes every touchpoint well-informed and cohesive, ensuring that each interaction reinforces the positive brand perception.
But we don’t want to make it sound like creating a 360-view of your customer is easy. In fact, many organizations find it quite challenging – more on that in the following section.
Challenges to Achieving the 360-degree Customer View
According to the 2022 Gartner report, only 14% of businesses have achieved a 360-degree view of the customer. Most turned to customer data platforms (CDPs) to achieve it, replacing customer relationship management (CRM) software.
The main challenge comes from companies trying to collect every data point, assuming that more data is always better. Gartner’s report reflects this and has found that 60% of respondents believe they need every piece of information about their customers.
One reason behind this belief is the lack of a clear definition of the 360-degree customer view. As a result, company leaders are unsure what customer data to collect and how – often leading to customer profiles that are too cumbersome and irrelevant.
Companies first need to invest effort and time to perform a data audit in order to understand what customer data they have available and which information will bring them the most value as part of a customer profile.
Only then should you invest in a technical solution, and in the next section, we’ll outline why a customer data platform is the right one for the job.
Creating a 360-degree View of the Customer with a Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Customer Data Platform software helps you capture and unify all your customer data in one place that’s accessible to everyone. This solution solves your data silos problem, as all departments have a single source of truth regarding who your customers are and what data you have on them. However, providing a 360-view of the customer is not the only power of CDP software.
There are many CDP use cases, and which one you prioritize will depend on your context.
For example, it can communicate with your other systems and trigger personalized marketing campaigns that drive value. And it does so automatically, saving your marketing and sales teams time and effort, which they can use for other, more strategic activities.
On the other hand, having a customer data platform ensures the safety and privacy of your customer data. In turn, it increases the trust customers give you when handling their data.