Achieving a Single Customer View: The Challenge!
In 2014, many of us are looking for ways to streamline our use of data so we can get more done in the working day. One of the ultimate goals in many businesses is having a single customer view.
Don’t be fooled by the name. The single customer view isn’t about creating the same dataset for everyone, nor is it about creating enormous flat-file records in a simple database. It’s about creating a three dimensional picture of the customer – something that can be explored from many different angles depending on the task at hand.
As your new year’s resolutions start to fade into February, it’s time to focus on your data quality challenges: can the single customer view really be achieved, and does it really serve the needs of all of its stakeholders?
The Task Ahead
Creating a single customer view means assessing the need of each department or function and aligning your data with the needs of each team. At the same time, the customer’s own priorities and pain points must be considered.
Thinking in terms of internal requirements, what does the single customer view entail? It might mean diversifying the information collected about customers, pooling data from different systems and changing internal workflows so that data is more accurate and complete.
Data quality also plays a part. After all, there’s no point in working towards a single customer view if your information is founded on ageing databases, out of date records and incomplete data capture. Existing software may need to be cleaned up using data cleansing software and data deduplication software. Existing data also needs to be cross-matched and merged as part of ongoing data quality initiatives.
Working towards the customer view is easier when broken down.
- Commit to the challenge. Get executive buy-in and preach the benefit of the single customer view throughout the organisation.
- Invest in outcomes. Achieving a goal like the single customer view isn’t always easy and may require an investment of resources in the early days.
- Prevent data decay. Data is a valuable, critical resource in business; it may not be tangible, but the effects of poor data manifest themselves across the organisation quickly and deeply.
- Understand the rewards. Teams, customers and the business all reap the rewards of the single customer view.
Throughout the process of developing a single customer view, each member of staff must understand the benefits for their work to ensure everyone is engaged and focused. Often, the best way to do this is to demonstrate how the single customer view will look through their eyes. A particular team may not ‘click’ when you tell them that every department will function more efficiently. However, show them the potential positive outcomes for their own department and they’ll see how the hard work will pay off.
In order to work towards the single customer view, we need the data in the right state – as opposed to ‘a right state’. There are many cogs in the data quality machine, and they must all be working in tandem towards the common goal.
The rewards are clear. Efficiency, accuracy, integration, lower costs, better service and fewer penalties from the authorities for poor data control. The single customer view may not be an easily achievable goal, but you still have time to make 2014 the year you work on your business data quality in a meaningful, fruitful way.