Why a single customer view is essential

In our last post we spoke about the challenges of building a single customer view.

Phew, that sounds hard.  So why bother?

Well, this turns out to be quite a short conversation.  If you don’t have a single customer view than your data is broken.  Anything you do on top of your data (that segmentation you’re so proud of, the targeted email marketing strategy you spent months developing, even a simple count of ‘how many customers you have’) won’t be right.

There are so many reasons that you, as an individual, can have multiple customer records that it is a near certainty that you will have, in most databases.  You’ll have experienced this phenomenon whether you are a database analyst or not.  It happened to me just last week whilst checking into a hotel I’ve stayed in several times before.  When I replied that, yes, I had stayed there before I was confidently told that I must be confused, there was no record of me in the system.  In fact (after me insisting that we jointly dig into the matter a bit further – I just can’t help myself!) it turned out that I had several entries in their system, under various misspellings of my name, previous addresses and old email addresses.

Why does this matter?

Let’s start with a simple microcosm.  Email marketing.  If, on this visit, I were to tick the ‘unsubscribe’ box on the check in form, then there would have still been records for my email address in their database that were opted into email marketing (not very DPA compliant…).  If I didn’t unsubscribe in this instance then I would have gotten 2 emails, to 2 addresses.  This may not matter so much for email, but if they’re putting their marketing materials in the post to me, the costs soon start adding up.

That’s a pretty simple example though, can it really make that much difference to your business?  Is it really worth the effort?

Most people would agree (and we would certainly preach it to be the case) that a customer-centric marketing strategy is the way forward.  In a customer centric marketing strategy you understand the sales history for a customer, you can forecast their Lifetime Value (LTV), you understand which segment of your customer base they belong to, you can target products at them with a proposition that will cut through.

Now let’s go back to my example in the hotel.  On different visits I’ve stayed in different classes of rooms, for different periods of time.  Sometimes I’ve ordered room service, sometimes I’ve had something from the mini-bar.  On other occasions I’ve only stayed a few hours (get your mind out of the gutter!).  This data should tell the marketeer (as is actually the case) that I travel for business and book late, hence me having to take whatever is available room-wise.  Instead I will look like several different people who have visited infrequently, one of whom only stays in the best rooms and has room service, another of whom stays in the cheap rooms and is only there for a few hours, and so on.

Instead of successfully identifying me as a valuable customer, with insights they can use to target their marketing at me, they have spammed me with irrelevant marketing material.

See, essential…

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