How to deliver a single customer view

Gathering all your customer data and merging it into a single record may seem daunting, but Melissa’s Barley Laing offers the step-by-step toolkit to better understand your customers, better personalise and better obtain insight into product or service improvement needs.

In today’s challenging economic environment it’s vital for long term growth that marketers look at all the options to deliver a competitive advantage and drive revenue from their customer base.

One of the best ways to achieve this is the delivery of a single customer view (SCV) – essentially gathering all your customer data then merging it into a single record.

Why an SCV?

An SCV provides a better understanding of customers enabling, for example, better targeting with personalised communications, and improvements to the delivery of products and services. It offers a standout customer experience which leads to improved retention rates and increased customer spend, along with operational efficiencies – and it reduces the opportunity for fraud. An SCV will help businesses to meet their ‘know their customer’ (KYC) and ‘anti-money laundering’ (AML) requirements.

1. The data decay fix

But to get there, it’s crucial to have clean customer data. Data decay is one of the biggest barriers to delivering a SCV, because customer contact data degrades at 25% a year without regular intervention, as peoples’ lives move on. And when it comes to contact data collection at the customer onboarding stage, about 20% of addresses entered online contain errors, including spelling mistakes and incorrect postcodes.

The good news is it’s straightforward to fix incorrect contact data to help deliver a SCV. It can usually take place with simple, cost-effective changes, which includes utilising data cleaning technology as part of your data quality regime.

Data cleaning should encompass cleansing and standardising held customer data to deliver data quality in batch, as well as when new data is collected, in real-time. Additionally, the cleansing tools used in this process should be able to enhance the data by filling in any missing contact details.

2. Autocomplete prevents input errors

Using address autocomplete or lookup technology provides a properly formatted, correct address as the user starts to input theirs. Tools like this improve the customer experience by reducing the number of keystrokes required, by up to 81%, when typing an address. This speeds up the onboarding process and reduces the probability of the user not completing the sale.

The first point of contact verification can also be extended beyond address to email and phone, so these valuable contact data channels can be verified in real-time. This ensures the ability to communicate effectively with users, not just on the first occasion but on an ongoing basis.

3. Match and dedupe

With the average database containing 8% to 10% duplicate customer records, duplication of data is a huge problem for many businesses. Duplicate data adds cost in terms of time and money with customer communications and can have a negative impact on the sender’s reputation and customer relationship management efforts.

Duplicate data is usually caused by mistakes in contact data collection at different touchpoints, or when departments or organisations merge their data. The best way to prevent it is to use an advanced fuzzy matching tool. This can merge and purge the most challenging records, making it possible to create a ‘single user record’ and obtain an optimum SCV. The potential for fraud is also reduced because there’s a unified record for each customer.

4. Add and enrich

Data cleaning tools should be able to fill in any gaps in the contact data, such as a missing telephone number, as well as correct them where necessary.

Doing so will support the delivery of a SCV and have a positive impact on the customer experience.

5. Get Saas enabled

With evolving technology it’s possible to obtain a scalable data cleaning software as a service (SaaS) platform which requires no code, integration or training. Marketers can simply plug in and benefit immediately.

This type of service can instantly cleanse and correct names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers worldwide. A single, intuitive interface provides the opportunity for data standardisation, validation, and enrichment, resulting in high-quality contact information in real-time across multiple databases to help engender a SCV.

6. Use AI

It is not just SaaS technology that’s been evolving. So has artificial intelligence (AI), and it’s set to add even greater value in delivering an SCV.

Today, a type of machine learning called semantic technology can deliver high value, in-depth intelligence on your customers. The value of semantic technology is that it associates words with meanings and recognises the relationships between them. It works by delivering powerful real-time connections between records, combining the missing pieces of data to support an informed decision about the content of a communication to a user.

The SCV benefits

With better understanding of customers, targeting is improved and a standout customer experience is delivered, leading to better retention rates and increased spend.

An SCV is vital for those who are serious about gaining a competitive edge, driving long-term growth, improving business efficiencies and reducing the opportunity for fraud.

Barley Laing

UK Managing Director