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Does Your CRM Provide a 360-Degree View of the Customer?

In a 2014 Forrester Research survey, marketers identified obtaining a single, 360-degree view of customers across channels as more important than acquiring new customers or retaining existing ones. 

These marketers understand that obtaining a clear, 360-degree view of their customers brings many advantages, chief among them:  

  • The ability to improve each interaction with a customer, effectively enhancing the relationship with that customer.
  • More precise customer segmentation and the ability to develop targeted marketing campaigns for each segment.
  • The ability to provide more personal, proactive customer service based on a customer’s buying habits. 

Yet, despite these advantages, many businesses struggle to realize a 360-degree view of their customers, even with the ready availability of easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM) software.  Industry insiders frequently cite issues like cost, employee buy-in, and a fundamentally poor understanding of the customer experience, as typical reasons for why businesses struggle to obtain a clear picture of their customers. 

But perhaps the biggest problem businesses face in their attempts to develop a single view of the customer is that the data they do have is fragmented, making it difficult to track across multiple systems and leading to data redundancies and silos. 

As reported by Forbes, organizations use, on average, 35 different data-gathering systems, with little to no integration. In fact, only a quarter of businesses claim to have in place a fully integrated system. For everyone else, the lack of system integration often cripples any efforts to obtain a 360-degree view and, therefore, stifles the potential benefits this information could bring. 

Three Ways Poor Customer Data Is Hurting Your Business

The less organized and focused your CRM is, the more your business will suffer.  Here’s how: 

1) Poor Customer Service

When customer information is stored in myriad, disconnected silos, there is often no clear path to resolving complex issues. Forrester reports that this is, in fact, a problem for 42% of surveyed service agents, all of whom admit they are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to lack of easily accessible and complete customer information. At the same time, 45% of customers cite lack of prompt support as the primary reason for why they will abandon a transaction. 

2) Wasted Marketing Efforts

Many marketers have limited information about their customers, so they typically rely on generic marketing efforts rather than addressing the unique needs of their customers which, according to 2014 Adobe study, is the single most important ingredient for marketing success. Customers want – and expect – a personalized marketing experience, with 74% expressing frustration with businesses which deliver irrelevant marketing content

3) Inability to Personalize

Digital Trends reports that 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant. Businesses which can access a complete history of a customer’s buying habits are at an advantage, able to make product recommendations, a service likely to foster brand loyalty. And business which personalize across all channels – in-store, online, mobile – experience the most benefit. These businesses have mastered the ability to connect data from all channels, creating a seamless customer experience which, according to one study, increases sales by up to 40%. 

 In other words, data which provides a 360-degree view of your customers reduces customer churn and attrition costs while increases customer loyalty and marketing effectiveness. Being able to zero in on what a particular customer needs, at any given moment, is crucial to your business’s success. The more connected you are to who your customers are and why they come to you, the easier it will be for you to meaningfully engage them, develop trusted relationships, solve problems and, quite likely, up-sell and cross-sell the right products

Improving the Quality of your Customer Data

Remember: developing a strong CRM will not happen overnight.                                                                                      

A truly integrated 360-degree view of the customer extends not just across channels and internal departments but across time. A true 360-degree picture must include: 

  • Past purchases, interactions, and responses.
  • Present interactions, identity, and preferences.
  • Future influences that can be used to prevent churn, maximize upsell and cross-sell, and – of course – maintain loyalty. 

In the end, a 360 view will provide the knowledge your company needs to improve customer satisfaction and business success. Your ability to update, maintain, and integrate data across all departments and channels can – and no doubt will – play a big part in your CRM’s usefulness.

Photo credit: Trekking Rinjani via Visual hunt / CC BY


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