The Three Dimensions of a 360 Customer View

My last blog introduced how a 360 customer view fuels long-term customer engagement and loyalty through personalized interactions at scale. The benefits of “360” are significant: better marketing, relevant communications, greater efficiency, stronger customer relationships, and ultimately, competitive advantage. I highlighted that this is why Hyatt customers go out of their way to stay at a Hyatt property.

The value of a 360 approach means understanding who your customer is and then applying that knowledge to support meaningful and authentic interactions – no matter where they happen. While the principle sounds simple, understanding your customer isn’t always easy.

Not only do customers change names, locations, and behaviors, but the data about them is everywhere and companies aren’t connecting it across their systems. A true 360 view involves capturing business-critical information out of disparate systems and matching that data to a trusted customer profile. So how do you achieve that? I’ll explain the three dimensions that go into creating a 360 customer view.

360 Customer View


The most fundamental of the three dimensions as you start the 360 engagement journey is the customer profile. You build this from basic, but critical, information: name, address, contact information, contact preferences, third party data, and so on. And even though this information is “basic” that doesn’t mean companies find it easy to get right.

Say your customer is Monica Mullen. Is Monica Smith, or M A Smith, that person also? Your customer may show up as M. Smith on one system and Monica Smith in another and Monica Mullen in a third. All are right at one point in the customer’s relationship with you, but which is the right one right now? Step one is finding all the records that are related to your customer.

This is a challenge because each department, line of business, or region has their own piece of that customer profile and therefore their own view into the customer. These different systems have the same person represented (potentially under different naming conventions as described above) and that information needs to be brought together. This is where master data management, along with data catalogs, data integration, data quality, data enrichment, and data governance, can be a game changer for companies by:

  • Finding the data
  • Connecting data sources
  • Cleaning the data
  • Verifying and enriching the data through 3rd parties
  • Matching, merging, and reconciling records
  • Securing the data (especially sensitive data)
  • Publishing the mastered data back out to systems so it’s consistent and readily available

All are needed, but pay particular attention to that fifth bullet. This is the master data management component that provides automation to reconcile the records for Monica Smith, M. Smith, M A Smith, and Monica Mullen. The magic happens as fields are evaluated, matched, and merged into one trusted record for Monica Mullen. This works across tens of thousands of records or hundreds of millions of records just as easily.

This would help the company I spoke of in my last blog that sends me two catalogs—one to both legal names that I’ve used. And it would help my cousin, who runs Greenwell Farms, a coffee producer in Kona, Hawaii. He’s told me that I have two accounts with their company. It’s mail order, so that means that I created two accounts using two different email addresses. And now I show up as two customers, not one. Being able to link the mailing address from the shipping system with the email address from the order system should help reconcile those two customer profiles into a single one and streamline their systems as well.


360 Customer ViewThe second dimension looks at your customer in the context of their relationships. For instance, if you have a customer’s address, who else is at that address? Are those other names part of a household, a workplace, or something else? And how will your interactions differ as a result of the answer to that question? This is where MDM helps you identify key relationships from the data you have and expand the profiles you’ve created.

With this knowledge, you can build a strategy around your customers’ relationships and start to gain insight into their behavior and how decisions you make as a business may impact them. I shop at Nordstrom, and Nordstrom has personal shoppers. Is the closest Nordstrom location the one that I shop at, or do I go to a different location that might be a little farther away because I have a relationship with the personal shopper at that location? How far would I be willing to drive? Are my preferences shifting to online interactions with the shopper? If that personal shopper changes stores, will I follow or am I at risk of defecting? What about the hundreds of other customers that personal shopper assists?

These are a few of the questions you can tackle as you master your data. The answers can help you identify the different ways you can anticipate what your customers need. As personal relationships become more important, it’s critical for businesses – from banks to healthcare to airlines to retailers to service companies, and so on – to know which individuals, locations, channels, and products are creating the ties that bind with customers.

 Transactions & interactions

Once you’ve connected data sources and merged the records across them to build a complete customer profile you can link products purchased and services used to that customer, and eventually link sales activities, marketing responses, and service interactions.

This third dimension helps you start answering questions like:

  • Which products or services do they already own or access?
  • What marketing offers have you sent to them that they accepted?
  • Which sales activities have they responded to?
  • Do they have any open issues with support or customer service?

With this knowledge you can decide the next best action. For example, a discount for a product they already own is meaningless and potentially annoying; but a marketing offer for a complementary item to that product could result in an additional sale. Or maybe it’s better to not take any action at all. For instance, if someone has a service ticket open, it might be wise to wait until that’s been resolved. Your goal is to provide to individualized treatment based on understanding your customer as a person and anticipating their needs.

Think about airline loyalty programs. They make a promise to you that if you behave in a certain way, you’ll be rewarded and move up in status. But sometimes an airline’s top revenue spenders aren’t in the top tier of the loyalty program. How do you reward those top customers differently? We’ve worked with airline customers to identify the people who are important customers even if they don’t fly the most miles or take the most trips. They then create strategic programs that surprise and delight passengers during their travel to create an emotional bond that brings them back.

This dimension can also extend into other types of data by linking big data to the trusted customer profile (for instance, through our Informatica Relate 360 solution). Adding data from IoT and devices can inform the interactions between sales, marketing, or service and your customer at the right time in order to advance your business objectives.

Where do you start?

Our customers like to say that MDM is a journey, implemented in phases, to deliver value at each step. That journey starts with a vision, as most journeys do, to be more customer centric, to act as one company to their customers, to comply with regulatory requirements, or to compete more intelligently in an industry that’s being disrupted by technology. Many of our customers are data-driven companies that have been successfully navigating change more than a 100 years; others, have existed for a shorter timeframe.

Every company follows their own path, and if you’re starting your 360 journey, how you grow really depends on your needs. But typically, our customers start with one domain such as customer and add others as they evolve and learn – about their data, their processes, their company culture. Once you have a trusted, single view of the customer (for instance, with Informatica Customer 360) then you can expand to new domains – such as product, supplier, employee, or location – and continue to build on the 360 view to deliver even more value for omnichannel commerce, supplier optimization, and greater operational efficiency.

Ready to delight your customers? Download our eBook, Seven Steps Closer to Intelligent Customer Engagement for a practical step-by-step guide on how to use data to create authentic customer experiences.