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Eric Swanson - 04.11.2018

Embracing a Single View of the Customer to Drive Digital Transformation

Customers today interact with companies across a number of channels … online, instore, POS, mobile, social, email, voice, AR/VR, delivery, even 3rd parties and beyond. According to Gartner, companies are spending two-thirds of their marketing budget to support customer retention and growth.  Yet most companies have not established a single view of the customer across all of their customer channels. As a result, customers do not establish consistent, deep, meaningful connections with brands across channels, and companies miss a golden opportunity to get to know their customers better and drive higher rates of customer engagement, retention, loyalty and advocacy.

Most companies have built their marketing organizations by channel … someone runs social while someone else runs online, another group handles instore, yet another group is in charge of email and CRM while someone else … you get the picture. And even worse, there are different customer systems of record for each channel-specific technology. Ugh! But who handles Jill the customer ... from A to Z … to better understand Jill’s needs consistently across every customer touchpoint?

The answer is to take a single view of the customer, which fundamentally changes how a company interacts with a customer. Instead of having multiple records of Jill (@therealJWilly on social, Jill online and Jill Williams in store), a company utilizes a comprehensive system of record for a customer that is used across all channels. The system of record contains instore transactional information from the POS, online sales information from eCommerce/CMS solutions, profile information from CRM and Marketing Automation technologies and other engagement information across other channels (social, email, mobile, concierge, etc.). This single view of the customer goes beyond transactions to consider lifestyles, behaviors, and habits which drive deeper levels of connection.

To achieve this single view of the customer, change management at an organization is required. In order to build a customer-driven organization, organizations must transform themselves and their marketing departments around their customers and their need states as opposed to channel. Budgets should not be allocated by channel but rather by pain points, opportunities and experiences. Customer experiences start with journey mappings to understand customer need states and channel disconnects. Rather than extend an existing technology that is not suited to handle this single view of the customer, look into a customer data platform that can integrate with the various channel technologies.

Given the magnitude and importance of the single view of the customer, here is a starting point:

  1. Define the customer personas and needs and develop future state customer experiences
  2. Map future state customer experiences to a comprehensive, cross-channel customer schema
  3. Select your customer data platform to support your customer schema
  4. Integrate your customer data platform across each customer channel
  5. Collaborate with customers and refine and extend your schema based on feedback
  6. Track results, refine approach and iterate, iterate, iterate


Look to establish momentum by establishing quick wins based on addressing pain points uncovered during the journey mapping process.

The long-term results of this single view of the customer methodology will lead to higher customer retention, advocacy and loyalty. Congrats … you are on the road to greatness.