Blog Can You Define and Track Your Unique Customers?

Posted August 29, 2017 by Jill Camper

Creating a Single View

How well can you define and track a unique customer? Often this depends on how well-defined your data strategy is across your entire enterprise. In many organizations, each area of the business is responsible for tracking customers individually (marketing keeps one customer view, sales keeps another, and compliance and operations each keeps yet another version). This works fine until you want unique insights into each customer. Most likely each area has their own rules, priorities, and reasons for tracking information on the customer. Add in possible acquisitions and non-integrated software suites, and it becomes virtually impossible to keep track of your customer!

The good news is the right data strategy can help to correct this and can provide a more holistic view of your customer base. Ideally, you’d have a complete enterprise data warehouse with all of your customers linked by relationships and unique identifiers. But since the average data warehouse initiative takes three to five years, what can you do now to provide a better customer view and experience? Here are four ways to get started:

  1. Start with a data strategy. It’s important to align everyone on a common goal. If getting a better understanding of your customers and how you interact with them is a top priority, start with that. Give specific instructions about what this means to the enterprise. Don’t use general terms like “we will be data driven”; instead, give specifics like “each new data source will now contain a unique customer identifier.” Set a strategy and timeline for when either all data sources will have this identifier or an easily accessible cross-reference between systems will be implemented.
  2. Make it easy to use. The best-laid plans will be scrapped if they are painful for end users. Have a plan in place to make it easy to get a new customer identifier when one is needed (across touchpoints). Don’t be afraid to ask users where they would like this located. Make sure the strategy is published and easily accessible. Keep it updated and remember that people don’t generally learn from hearing something only once. Champion continued use and be willing to make changes if the first process is too difficult.
  3. Avoid making it a “technical-only” endeavor. Technology can make all of this much easier, but it is only one part of the solution. Find ways to have your associates actively engaged throughout the process. The more invested a person is, the more likely they will be to use it. And make sure any technology chosen closely fits your business needs. The business should not be adapting processes to meet the technology, as this often leads to siloed data.
  4. Show the value. You are now establishing a more connected view of the customer – so make sure you benefit from it.
    • Use the data to show a customer’s value across systems and business lines.
    • Make the information available to your analytics team so they can look for new insights.
    • Share the information with marketing to aid in determining better targets.
    • Share customer insights with the sales team to help them focus on the right customer, at the right time, with the right message.
    • Create a roadmap that includes all lines of business with ways to show value to all.

The elusive “single view of a customer” may be a difficult journey, but with the right start, it can be achieved!



Jill Camper
Sr. Consultant/Data Architect
DST Systems, Inc.

categories: analytics

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.




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