Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: Why Does My Customer Service Team Need a Single Customer View?

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Murph Krajewski, writes about the importance of a single customer view when it comes to serving your customers. This will help lead you to forming important relationship with your customer.  – Shep Hyken

Customer service needs customer data

Priceless customer information is generated every time a customer interacts with you.

The question is: are you collecting it, storing it in a centrally-accessible “source of truth,” and using it to create a complete understanding of your customer? What we’re talking about here is a single customer view.

John Rampton, entrepreneur and investor, defines single customer view as:

❝…an accessible and consistent set of information about how a customer has interacted with your company, including what they have bought, their personal data, opinions, and feedback.❞

Over the course of multiple customer service interactions, this pool of customer data becomes an increasingly valuable asset. Having a full account of historical information and tools to help you get insight from it lets you tune your operations to provide intimate customer experiences.  These discrete experiences become the building-blocks of customer loyalty.

Bruce Springsteen once said:

❝Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.❞

It’s hard to argue with the Boss, and even though his context was music the principle remains the same. People appreciate consistency, which makes inconsistent customer experiences a problem.

A single customer view allows every frontline agent to have an up-to-date, 360-degree view of a customer. This makes it easy for an agent to form a connection with a customer and treat them like the individual they are. Do this time after time, and you’re now forming a relationship.

Let’s start connecting some dots.

The right contact center technology for a SCV

By and large, the only way to ensure the personal connection customers demand is to tap into all the data that’s being generated every time they contact you. I won’t sugarcoat it…that’s a lot of data, and dealing with it isn’t child’s play. The good news is, a powerful customer experience platform can provide a clear look into the realm of Big Data.

Rampton adds:

❝To achieve this single customer view, an organization must have some type of system that unifies all the available information on that customer.❞

Too many companies aren’t working with a SCV, aren’t doing so as well as they could, or are collecting information but doing so in disparate, disconnected systems for voice, text, email, web chat, and social media.

The right technology will help you bring cross-channel customer information together, eliminate channel/organizational silos holding valuable data hostage from your team, and gain a complete picture of each individual customer’s entire journey.

Simply gathering data is a half-measure, though. Think of it like buying a giant telescope, pointing it at the heavens, and never putting your eye up to it. Once you have this rich data, the right system will also have tools to process, view, and draw actual insight from it.

Once you’ve gotten a look into the data, you can accurately plot a goal for customer experience based on what your customers actually want. Next, you may need to re-tool some existing processes or systems to reach that goal.

Challenges to achieving SCV

Many customer service teams face significant challenges holding them back from realizing a complete customer view, including:

  • Unifying disparate systems. More than one third (34%) of companies say that difficulty unifying different sources of customer data is one of the main obstacles in delivering a great customer experience. The challenge today is finding ways to get systems which were designed to operate autonomously in the past to work together as a single, well-oiled machine.
  • Relying on outdated legacy systems. Legacy call center solutions—and data collection technologies and processes—can’t keep pace with changing customer behaviors and the new communication channels they’re using to connect with businesses. At some point, you’ll have to replace these systems. The good news here is that modern technology has evolved to the point where you can fix legacy problems and prepare for the future at the same time.
  • Looking at single customer view as a one-off project. SCV is anything but a one-time thing. It’s is an investment in your future. You’re not simply plugging-in technology. You’re re-prioritizing… beginning with your most important asset (your customers) and working backward.

If these barriers sound familiar, if you’re even nonchalantly nodding in agreement, you’re not alone–83% of companies struggle to link customer information across channels.

Providing real-time, contextual service for each customer relationship isn’t easy, and there’s no shortcut. However, given that Millennials are now the largest living generation, the largest generation in the work force, and the largest spending generation, businesses have to find a way to suit the expectations. (Author’s note: though I’m a GenXer, myself, I confess that the Millennial world has changed the way I think about being a customer. It’s not ALL about Millennials.)

With the “digital native” generation now squarely in the majority, the rest of the world must flex. For businesses, a single customer view is the way to keep track of the fast-moving change that is now the new normal.

Customers pick and choose how they communicate

Customers have more choices than ever before. With virtually any communication channel available at their fingertips, customers want to dictate when, where, and how they will contact the customer service department. Your task is to know their preferences, and to be ready to provide the same quality of support regardless of when and where a customer reaches out.

Recent Forrester data shows that in the past 12 months, the following percentage of U.S. online customers have used these channels for service:

  • 84% used web/mobile self-service or FAQs
  • 83% used the phone
  • 76% used email
  • 65% used chat
  • 56% used communities
  • 43% used Twitter

“Responding quickly” is rated by customers as the most critical aspect of a great customer experience, so agents need to be equipped to support each of these media types with instant access to the same customer information.

The line separating how customers expect to interact with brands vs. how they communicate with friends and family is blurring. Customers today expect their interactions with companies to be as easy, personal, quick, and satisfying as if they were calling a family member or friend for advice or a favor.

When I text my friend about getting together for lunch, I expect to get a text message back fairly quickly, in a continued conversation. We’ll work out a time, then pick a place.  Done.

Over time, this level of instant response has conditioned people to have the same kind of mentality when it comes to interacting with their favorite brands.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, says:

❝Customers do not understand organizations not having one standardized view of all their interactions.❞

Similarly, customers expect to contact a company however they choose, and to be able to receive service on that channel, right then. And they expect the agent they speak with to know their full history with the company–from the moment they connect.

Conclusion

Ultimately, achieving a single customer view will require researching and studying your customers. You’ll have to make your customer service operations, contact center technology, and company culture all point to the target of a satisfied, loyal customer. The value and usability of all the data you’re collecting will skyrocket–as will your agent satisfaction, overall CSAT, and customer loyalty (the holy grail of sales).
Orchestrating a SCV is crucial. Check out more resources that show how “Not Knowing Your Customer is Costing You.” These will elaborate on this post, and help you get started on your path to really knowing and serving your customers.

Murph Krajewski is the Vice President of Marketing for Sharpen, a cloud-native contact center platform that helps companies create perfect customer experiences and improve agent satisfaction.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Social Customer Care Is The New Marketing

 
  1. Nice to have Murph write for your blog, Shep.

    This is an important matter to talk about, Murph. Technology is advancing and the demands for having this all-in-one solution are getting higher. A company must know when and how to invest on a software that can combine all the data from different different sources in a single unified view. Tenfold, is one of them. This universal data layer might just be the solution towards a better single customer view for each representative. They can easily look up customer information, address their concern, and personalize their responses (and even ad libs) once they see the customer’s journey.

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