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Everything you need to know about the new customer view – the heart of everything you do

Everything You Need to Know About Data and Customer Experience, in partnership with Acxiom, is designed to help marketers quickly get up to speed with one of the most important issues in today’s marketing industry. The series of videos lets you find out everything you need to know about each crucial subject in one short film – something you can watch in the back of a taxi on the way to your next crucial meeting on the subject. That’s why each episode is filmed in the back of a London black cab.

So far, the Everything You Need to Know series has covered the role of data in recognising your most valuable customers and how to activate it in today’s data economy; now, attention turns to the new customer view and how that can help deliver a great customer experience through more relevant marketing.

Here are 10 key points you need to keep in mind.

1. The single customer view (SCV) is the heart of everything you do.

It is an aggregated, consistent and holistic representation of the data an organisation has about its customers, including all their known contact points and preferences. In many ways, it is the customer.

2. Think where your SCV sits within your marketing ecosystem.

Jed Mole, European marketing director at Acxiom, notes that over time the SCV has migrated and evolved. In some companies it has become a customer relationship management (CRM) database; in others, part of the email service provider (ESP) database.

“Some businesses have put their SCV into a campaign management tool, others into an enterprise data warehouse,” Mole says. Data lakes – storage repositories that hold vast amounts of raw data in native format until needed – are also becoming increasingly popular.

3. Has your SCV split into multiple views of your customer?

Your marketing database might now be multiple databases, with little crossover between them. Data silos exist, and are compounded by the addition of marketing and advertising technologies. New systems, such as email, mobile and social platforms, are too often bolted on. So if they sit separately, why?

According to Forrester, the majority of marketers have customer data spread across a surprising number of databases. Just 22% of marketers it surveyed in 2015 had a single customer database.

Yet 70% of those who did reported that the data they collected was “very useful”.

4. Recognise that you might not actually hold all your customer data all of the time.

Companies are increasingly relying on partners such as major digital publishers. Mole notes: “Inevitably, customer data will flow beyond an organisation’s own boundaries. It is crucial that you factor this in, and what it means for you, your business and your customer.”

5. Ditch the organisational hierarchies and silos.

Many companies are compounding data silos by the very way they are organised and their teams incentivised. CRM, digital, sales and customer service teams are often separate, each focused on the customer but from very distinct standpoints. In fact, a recent Econsultancy study shows that 66% of companies globally believe the siloed nature of their organisations prevents them from better using data in marketing.

Engine Group head of strategy Pete Edwards says: “Why is there a difference between the marketing department and, say, the e-commerce department, given that e-commerce is marketing at heart? Why are there separate sales and marketing teams when they share the same purpose?”

6. Consider the differences between data collected online and offline.

It sounds obvious, but is too often ill-considered. Generally speaking, offline data is rich in detail but light on volume. It is also slow-moving, perhaps taking days, weeks or months to collate and analyse. Online data is vast in its scope, often offering an incredible real-time dynamic view of the customer, but is it as rich? It’s essential to combine online and offline data, but it is difficult, not least because 64% of marketers say the two formats are still handled by separate teams in their organisations.

7. An ‘open garden’ philosophy should underpin your new (single) view of the customer.

Recognise that data alone is not the answer, nor is technology.

An open garden philosophy results in the ability to identify, understand and connect with real people by allowing data to flow across whatever technology, platforms and partners it needs to, in privacy-compliant ways. It enables true, people-based marketing. Mole says: “I believe the open garden – or open stack, if you will – creates more consumer value and therefore more brand value. It’s a very collaborative approach centred on the most important piece of the whole equation – the customer.”

8. The data foundation is the key enabler of an open garden approach.

It should allow combined online and offline data to support an analytics view of an organisation’s customers, a dynamic view of those customers to support marketing operations in real time, and safe-haven technology to enable two parties’ data to be combined, thus generating richer insights without parties having direct access to each other’s data. The principles of safe havens were explored in the previous issue.

9. There are three central pillars of a successful data foundation.

First, marketers must ensure that they have great identity resolution in place to maximise the degree to which online and offline data can be attributed to real people. Second, connectivity is vital in today’s fragmented marketing landscape – the ability to flow data to the hundreds of platforms, applications and partners of all sizes that both generate and utilise the data is necessary. And third, data stewardship and governance – including data privacy – is key to ensuring an organisation’s SCV is compliant and doing all it can to drive value to the customer.

10. Ensure that you connect the data properly.

Organisations that can join online and offline data together and stitch them into useable, valuable insights will be rewarded in both the short and long term. Data onboarding is a complex topic of its own, and one that will be explored in the final instalment of Everything You Need to Know About Data and Customer Experience.

Find out more at our Everything You Need to Know hub.

This article was originally published in The Drum magazine.

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