Is a Single Customer View Out of Reach?

The single customer view is the Holy Grail of marketing analysis, but to many in the industry it’s been a quest for perfection that can never be reached. That said, with today’s communications technology, it’s never been closer.

Trying to define the single customer view without resorting to jargon has proven a difficult challenge to many, but the consensus is that it’s the goal of bringing together all of a company’s customer information base to give a comprehensive and rounded insight into serving their needs.

You could argue that back in the days of the high street where shopkeepers knew every customer by name, knew about their personal lives, and remembered their regular order was as close as it gets to a single customer view – and that the emergence of national and international conglomerates pushed that target out of reach.

However, the actual amount and variety of customer data available to businesses has never been greater: the problem is bringing it all together. That’s where it becomes vital for departments to share data, or at least make it available in a format where marketing teams can collate it and view it in the round.

For example, The Guardian reported that fashion retailer Hobbs merged data from its branches and e-marketing departments and discovered that 26% of the customers who read its promotional emails did not buy anything online, but did respond by buying products in stores. Such a realisation could allow the company to make changes; informing store managers which products would be mentioned in upcoming emails so that they could display them in a prominent location, or increasing stock levels to serve the previously unrecognised “view online, buy offline” customer base.

To be honest, it’s tough to tell if it really is possible to achieve the perfect single customer view, because nobody knows what it would look like. But the insight that integrating data from every point, from buying supplies to handling complaints, provides a case where the journey is more important than the destination.