Understanding how your customers behave and shop has never been more critical. With online advertising budgets alone going into hundreds of thousands (if not millions) – you can’t afford to play the guessing game when it comes to who your customers are and what they respond to.
On top of that, customers are becoming more demanding – not to mention digitally savvy. So, it can feel as if there’s always a new channel or touchpoint that you need to introduce. And each of those is (of course) a separate ecosystem that doesn’t play well with the ones you already have. Meaning that each is a data silo in itself – and we’ve already covered why data silos are problematic in our recent blog post.
To make matters worse, departments love hoarding their customer data and are often reluctant to share it with others. And if this is the case in your company, your marketing and sales teams might have a completely disjointed view of the customer based on entirely different data sets.
So how do you combine all those disparate data sources to form a unified customer view? Let’s find out!
What is a 360-customer view?
Imagine yourself on a mountain peak. The day is clear, and you can see for miles in every direction. Pretty helpful in case there’s a hungry bear nearby. Or dark rainy clouds, carrying the risk of a flash flood.
Well, the same goes for the 360-degree view of your customer. It helps you unify all your customer data, giving you a comprehensive customer profile. This can include everything from their basic contact information, past interactions with your brand, contact with customer service, or even their recent social media activity. The customer profile helps you understand and even predict customer behavior, preventing any significant risks and surprises down the road.
At the same time, the 360-view of the customer helps you connect and engage with them on a more personal level. Understanding how they feel throughout the customer journey allows you to empathize and go beyond a transactional relationship. Empathy is essential for your business success as it fosters long-term customer loyalty and emotional engagement with your brand.
We don’t want to make it sound as if creating a 360-view of your customer is easy. But the benefits more than make up for the effort and investment needed. And we’ll talk more about those benefits next.
Benefits of a 360-degree customer view
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 intelligent and personalized suggestions or special offers based on that information. This will make the customer feel understood (remember, empathy is key), leading to long-term brand loyalty.
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 could 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’re likely to 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 even introduce a completely 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 need to share the same customer view and operate on the same data sets.
Now that we know what benefits the 360-view of the customer brings – let’s see how you can create one for your customer using a customer data platform.
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. But providing a 360-view of the customer is not the only power of CDP software.
The customer data platform also communicates with other systems within your organization to turn that customer data into real-time, personalized engagement that drives value. And it does so automatically, saving your marketing and sales teams time and effort, which they can use for other, more strategic activities.
Finally, 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.