It’s 2015: When Will You Have a 360-Degree Customer View?

Customer-ready companies power great experiences with 360-degree customer views

According to a recent Gartner report[i], “business demand is still growing for the 360-degree view of the customer, driven in large part by desire to improve the customer experience.”

Will you be customer-ready by 2020?
When WILL you be customer-ready?

When I was a frequent flyer marketer at a national airline in the 1990s, our 360-degree customer view was based on location, status, and partners used. To manage these relationships, the data we relied on was little more than the frequent flyer number, name, address, city pairs, tier level and mileage totals. If we needed any other data, we asked IT for it.

Next year, frequent flyer programs (FFPs) turn 35 years old. Initially, they were an attempt to strategically build relationships with customers traditionally ‘owned’ by the travel agent. By the mid-1990s, digital disintermediation of agencies, the rise of online booking tools, and the introduction of e-tickets changed how the industry could view its customer relationships.

Most every industry has experienced a digital disruption (or is about to). Companies have more comprehensive information about their customers than thought possible when FFPs were launched. But more information does not always produce the trusted data that’s needed to be customer-ready.

Here’s why a 360-degree customer view remains elusive:

  • Today’s world is more complex, both fragmented and interconnected. For example, I interact on my iPhone, iPad and my laptop with brands through snail mail and email, through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram), through ecommerce sites and corporate websites, in person, through call centers, and through channel or delivery partners. I personally have no less than 7 email accounts. The data I’m creating across all of these channels and interactions should be aligned for a 360-degree customer view.
  • Departmental approaches reinforce silo’d processes. Tactical solutions can’t scale enough to support enterprise-wide strategies. The multiple applications and organizational structures that exist within a company each produce their own version of the truth. If implemented as a departmental, tactical program and not as part of a strategic enterprise-wide initiative, a 360-degree customer view will have little success.
  • Marketing, sales and customer service teams then struggle to keep pace. The answers you need today will not be the ones you need tomorrow. System flexibility becomes an imperative. Data that fuels 360-degree customer views – that is, the basic data about the customer, their preferences, the products they own or services they use, who they do business with, their households, businesses and networks –should be connected in a central hub flexible enough to keep pace with and inform future needs.

How do you ensure your strategies don’t become an assembly of disconnected tactics? The most successful customer-ready companies build customer-centric strategies that are embraced at the highest level. While led by the Chief Executive Officer, the customer experience may be owned by a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Marketing Officer, but customer interactions become everyone’s responsibility. Accordingly, everyone is provided with the right tools fueled by trusted customer information, leading to better-informed customer decisions and great customer experiences.

In Gartner’s new report “Powering Customer Experience with the Trusted 360-Degree View” authors Bill O’Kane and Saul Judah lay out their recommendations. They put master data management (MDM) and enterprise information management (EIM) at the heart of any customer experience success. They go as far as stating that “by 2020, 75% of those organizations that neglect MDM and EIM while creating a 360-degree view of their customers to support the CX will adversely affect CX metrics via the use of inaccurate data during customer interactions.”

Will your company be customer ready at the end of the next four-plus years? Sustaining a 360-degree view of customers is no doubt a journey, and the Gartner report provides guidance on where to start. Read the report here.

[i] Gartner Powering Customer Experience With the Trusted 360-Degree View, 26 May 2015, Bill O’Kane, Saul Judah.