Single Customer View: what it is and why companies must make it their own

26 May 2020Reading time: 4 min.

Collecting data is easy. Collecting the right data is not so easy. Organizing data in one “place” is very difficult. However, it brings great advantages.


A few weeks ago on our blog, we talked about customer data quality. This is a set of activities aimed at ensuring the quality and reliability of the data relating to the recipients, whether they are customers or leads.

Today we still talk about data, yet focusing rather on their managerial side. This is made up of activities that regulate and optimize the arrangement of the data capital (somebody call it “the virtual gold”) that accumulates gradually within a database.

This set of activities has a name: Single Customer View. This concept is increasingly emerging among those who most need to benefit from information on customers and prospects. Let’s make things tidy and try to understand better what is it about, what advantages it offers, and what it requires.

What is Single Customer View?

The Single Customer View is a method of collecting and merging all data relating to prospects and customers within a single log.

Let’s try to give a more precise definition of this approach to the data collection. According to Experian, the Single Customer View is:

An aggregate, coherent, and holistic representation of all the data known to a company and related to its customers.

Storing every bit of information about users in a unique and centralized place allows for a precise overview of who they are and every action they have taken on the different touchpoints available to them, both online (smartphones, websites) and offline (physical points of sale ).

What data feed the Single Customer View?

The answer is different for each company. The data useful for the definition of the Single Customer View depend on the objective to be achieved. To give you an overview, we can distinguish the following types of data that are useful for the Single Customer View:

  • Personal data: e-mail address, telephone number, social profiles, etc. These are all the contact details that we generally associate with a CRM
  • Web and behavioral data: what content the user views, what products he/she puts in the cart, buys, or chooses to abandon in the cart
  • Transactional data: everything related to a specific user action: purchases, registrations, downloads, expiration, and renewal dates and any other kind of action
  • Privacy data: consents granted or denied by the user regarding the processing and use of his/her data for various purposes (commercial, profiling, and more).

It is important to note two aspects:

  1. All these different types of data are generally scattered within different systems used by the various departments of the company for distinct purposes. The Single Customer View brings them together and makes them talk to each other.
  2. What we’ve indicated above are first-party data, that is, collected directly by the company, unlike third-party data, which refer to anonymous users and without direct connection with the company that will use them. Talking about Single Customer View means talking about first-party data.

What are the advantages that the Single Customer View may offer?

What’s key in adopting a Single Customer View is that it allows you to derive greater value from data coming from different sources. But let’s see in more detail what advantages can be obtained from this approach.

  • More precise targeting : the more data available, the greater the possibility of categorizing and segmenting the lists
  • Better customer experience: having the history of all the contacts (from e-mails to tweets) between brands and individual users leaves no room for misunderstandings and allows you to offer them exactly what they want and without delay
  • More linear internal processes: the data are no longer scattered in different databases. This means there’s no need to contact the reference department to obtain specific information about a customer. Everything you need at your fingertips
  • Better attribution: it’s often difficult to retrace the steps that led a user from the first contact to the purchase (social media, PPC, word of mouth, newsletter…). Having a clear picture of all these steps allows you to reconstruct the route more accurately.

How to implement the Single Customer View?

Many companies face this question. People often think that the adoption of a specific software or the creation of a new database may be enough to obtain the benefits promised by the Single Customer View. It’s not as simple as that.

As we said, the Single Customer View is a process: it develops in different phases, takes time, and, even after its launch, it requires maintenance and constant update. Let’s check out the key elements for implementing it.

Three key elements to create a thorough customer view

# 1 Customer journey view

In order to obtain a Single Customer View, a very comprehensive perspective on people’s interactions is needed. Therefore, zooming in on all touchpoints, even the smallest ones is important. This means taking into consideration every occurrence of contact between the user and the brand, keeping in mind that not all interactions may be linear.

We need to monitor all channels, the way in which the transition from one to the other takes place, and any weaknesses or critical point, to avoid the customer journey encountering frictions and setbacks.

# 2 Connected and synchronized data

The current availability of sources — CRMe-mail channel, Marketing Automation, etc.  makes even more important to merge the data bits into individual records. This implies a thorough customer view, meaning being able to rely on a complete dimensional profile of each customer and prospect.

customer data platform can do the job by consolidating every bit of data about your users and offering a complete overview of the actions that people take on the site, on mobile, or even in the store.

# 3 Involvement of all teams

It takes effort and planning to create a thorough view of customers. As mentioned, it is key to have a clear objective, namely the purpose that, when attained, will help the company achieve better results.

Being clear about the goal leads the company to involve also the other teams, not just the marketing. This brings macro changes in the strategy.

To conclude: how does the Single Customer View apply?

The Single Customer View offers marketing teams a wide range of applications. However, the focus is on personalization.

We know that one-to-one marketing consists in creating personalized communication in each touchpoint (on the site, on the mobile app, and in e-mail campaigns).

This article was written by

Andrea Serventi

Andrea Serventi

Editor

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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