The 360 Customer View – and Why it’s Key to Long-Term Engagement and Loyalty

360 customer viewIf you follow marketing surveys or business trends, you know that businesses are trying to win over customers with great experiences. As customers have become more connected and digital, their expectations have also increased. And many companies are proving that a personal and individualized experience has become the only way to ensure long-term engagement and loyalty. That’s why there’s been so much continued focus on holistic or 360-degree views of your customers.

Here’s an example. A homeowner was a recent victim of a fire. While the claim is being settled, the insurance company wants to ensure the billing team doesn’t call the customer to ask about their late payment. Usually these two departments – billing and claims – are not only separated by function, but by their systems and the data each system manages.

A 360 customer view can change this experience. But how can “360” really change things? Here are three characteristics of what I see as essential to achieving long-lasting engagement.

Individualized versus personalized

You hear a lot about communication needing to be personalized. But if the extent of your personalization is “Hi, Monica,” you’re not really keeping up. Instead, a 360-degree view lets you communicate to your customer as an individual. That’s because the data that creates that 360 view is trusted, governed, and accessible.

Here’s another example. Seven years ago, when I got married I changed my name. Seven years later, I still get catalogs and mail addressed to my former name. Since I’m in marketing, I understand what’s going on. If one company is mistaken about my name, and they share my data, that error gets replicated elsewhere—and suddenly there are multiple vendors that have the wrong name. There are ways to fix that.

But when it’s a single company that sends two catalogs – one to Monica Smith and the other to Monica Mullen – to one address, each with a different offer, it becomes easy to feel like just another address. There are ways to fix that too.

I’ve talked to other companies that don’t want to send offers to customers who are in the middle of a dispute or customer service interaction with the company. It’s knowing when and how to communicate. After you’ve resolved their issue, then you can send the 15 percent off coupon. But send an offer at the wrong time and you seem clueless.

Responsive

Businesses are getting better at listening to their customers. But the speed at which you respond to their concerns can make a big difference in how they perceive you. Take, for instance, chatbots, which are becoming ubiquitous.

A chatbot is a promise to understand and respond to your issue quickly. But often you’ll wait for some time while the agent searches for information regarding your query. As you wait for the chatbot or intelligent agent, the experience is often more frustrating than satisfying. You’re left wondering if they even understand the issue at all.

But if your business has a 360-degree view of your customer’s relationships and interactions, your agents (whether they’re bots or human) are able to deliver the answers your customer is looking for at the right moment – stemming the frustration on both sides of the chat.

Actively listening and anticipating

Every brand communicates a promise to their customers and prospects. How a customer engages, and how loyal they remain, is a direct result of fulfilling that promise. Think Southwest Airlines (where I happen to be sitting as I write this). Often, the brand promise is table stakes. For many companies, it may require going above and beyond the brand promise to truly create a long-lasting relationship. And while surprising and delighting customers can sound trite, that’s what brands should aspire to when competing in a crowded marketplace.

That’s why the most customer-centric brands I’ve met are actively working with their data so they can anticipate what their customers want. The message they want to convey is: “We know you and will take care of you.” A 360 customer view supports a cultural shift and an ability to recognize the “humanness” of customers when self-service and other automated processes make many interactions impersonal.

One of my favorite stories in this area is Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. Hyatt, of course, is a global brand with hundreds of properties around the world. They compete with brands of massive scale. Each hotel has its own system for inventory, reservations, food and beverage and so on.

Hyatt captures business-critical data out of those systems and reconciles those data sources to create trusted guest profiles. Those profiles are then shared with the hotels, so when a loyalty program member checks in, they can access a secure profile of the guest’s preferences. What’s great about this is that when a Chicago sports fan checks into a Hyatt in Chicago, they might find a schedule of local places to watch a Cubs game during their stay. Or when someone who’s asked about hamburgers in one Hyatt checks into another property, they’ll be offered information on the best hamburger joint in the neighborhood (which may not necessarily be the hotel restaurant).

That kind of anticipation has driven loyalty and increased spend. So much so, that Hyatt’s guests will go out of the way to stay in one of their properties.

It’s a result of treating data like a strategic business asset, and using solutions that include master data management, data integration, data quality, and data governance to connect the data sources and then create the trusted 360 customer view so it can be used by the people who need it and are making a difference. I’ll talk more about what this view looks like and how to create it in my next blog post.

Learn more about the power of a 360 customer view in our eBook, Customer Data Strategies For Dummies.

 

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