Single customer view: Challenges & obstacles

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With a proper Single Customer View (SCV), businesses can create more relevant, personalised and interactive experiences, predict customer’s likely next moves and requirements and customise interactions based on the time, location and context of each engagement.

As such, organisations have long been trying to obtain a perfect SCV. In fact, one might expect the market to be saturated with products that can enable this, but in reality it remains a huge struggle.

Key challenges

This is partly due to the huge amounts of data organisations have to contend with. There is a mind boggling amount of internal and external, structured and unstructured data to be waded through.

To gain the personal insight necessary to succeed, all data related to a customer must be collected and consolidated or linked to create a contextual SCV. This includes master data such as name and address (this sounds simple but rarely is!), contextual data, location data and network data (essentially the relationships between people, places and things)

To make things even more complicated, all this data is also constantly evolving and so needs to be consistently monitored updated and governed. Customers are changing all the time, they’re getting older, richer, poorer, travelling, having families. All things which impact on their wants and needs and how they interact with a brand. Any SCV needs to be able to keep up and offer a rapid picture of customers at any point in time.

Quite aside from the sheer volume and rapidly evolving nature of customer data, is the way it is collected and stored by organisations. All too often data is stored in a variety of formats and structures in departmental silos of information, especially when businesses have grown rapidly or through acquisition.

Practical steps to overcoming these challenges.

So, how can organisations overcome these challenges to create a SCV that really adds value? The following practical steps can act as a key guide for organisations:

1. Know your data, know your customer

Data quality is the absolute foundation for any SCV. No attempt at personalisation, no matter how innovative the technology involved – whether that is a new CRM system, AI or chatbots – will be effective if it is not fed with accurate, up to date data.

2. Don’t try and build a perfect world

Creating a SCV can seem daunting, but businesses should not make the mistake of trying to create a ‘perfect world’ where all systems are ready, all data is modeled, all key stakeholders are completely onboard and every eventuality is considered before starting.

Instead, focus on finding the right technology. If nimble, agile and flexible technology is used, then it can evolve and adapt as the organisation’s needs change – as well as keep up with rapidly evolving customer data.  

3. Learn to work with silos

Of course in an ideal world it would be better if there were no silos of information. However, in the often far from ideal world the majority of businesses operate in, they are unfortunately a fact of life. Instead, businesses need to find a way to work with them.

Does your organisation really need to restructure their entire IT system and synchronise all data? Instead, businesses should consider how they can use technology to access and bring together data from a variety of sources to get a real-time view as needed. 

4. Examine all the options

There are a wide variety of technology options available when it comes to creating a SCV. Selecting technology is not an easy process and with so many voices and so many features to choose from, organisations need to get it right to avoid costly mistakes. The right technology isn’t about just selecting the best scoring technology in the quadrant or wave but what fits your organisation and keeps the costs and change reasonable and within the realms of your ability and organisation’s maturity. 

Bringing in expertise to carry out a maturity assessment before commencing on selecting technology can be hugely valuable. This would typically include looking at the data available, existing technology and architecture, but most significantly the people and processes already in place. This can substantially save money in terms of wasted investment or course correction further down the line.

5. Think beyond a SCV

Those organisations who simply treat having a SCV as a tick box exercise will not benefit from the value it can bring. A SCV is an enabler, and businesses need to have a clear plan around what it will enable them to do and then ensure they act on this plan to develop and deliver new propositions, products and services.

Organisations should not be afraid to bring in outside help to achieve this as any change can be challenging and is, of course, about so much more than just technology. For businesses to derive real value from having a SCV, there needs to be investment in people and processes to enable change.

About Dan Telling

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15th Mar 2019 15:48

Great article!

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