Single customer view – engaged, single or “it’s complicated”?

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
November 4 2016,
May 27 2020
We’re marketers which means, amongst other things, we love a TLA. TLA’s (or “3-letter acronyms” – see what I did there?) are part of this weird cloak of jargon we’ve woven for ourselves. Terms comprehensible only to the marketing fraternity and which confound and confuse others in equal measure. The “Single Customer View” (SCV) is one such.

So, what is it?

It’s a simple enough concept, but rock hard to achieve. The Single Customer View essentially relies on recognising and identifying an individual across channels, devices and media to provide a 360-degree understanding of him or her. But with so many of these available, and being utilised, achieving it is proving virtually impossible for most organisations.

Who is doing it?

An increased number (40%) of the respondents in the latest Econsultancy* survey believed the business they worked within “took advantage of an SCV”. But what comes to light is that only 12% of the 220 total are confident that they’ve tied together all the data sources required to achieve it. And that’s a worrying gap.

What’s the benefit?

The research reinforces that personalisation and the wider customer experience continue to be priorities. In fact, around 75% agreed that the benefits of an SCV “are essential for growth”. But neither of these priorities is possible without a broad and deep understanding of a customer’s actions, needs and interests. 

And without it?

Without joined up, focused analysis of these, we see individuals only in silhouette. Consider a high-spending consumer that browses in one channel (a printed catalogue), showrooms using another (on the website) but then purchases using yet another (via an app). While he might at first sight appear to be a profitable and loyal brand advocate, if he then frequently – or always - returns these goods elsewhere (instore) quite the opposite is in fact the case.

What’s the impact?

The impact of that missing jigsaw piece, in this case the store visit, is huge. Our views on channel effectiveness are skewed, our attribution model screwed, and this blurred or “tunnel vision” – literally the opposite of SCV – makes our so called “customer insight” worthless.

Where’s it going wrong?

It seems that, despite promising to the contrary, nearly 60% said that their data management vendors were struggling to comprehensively “connect the dots”. That the technology is failing, it appears, is being compounded by organisations simply not having the skills and capabilities internally to identify and remedy these shortcomings.

Who suffers?

The customer and, ultimately, the business. The timing, relevance and customisation of messaging is heavily reliant on the intelligence an SCV delivers. No Single Customer View means true personalisation, that holy grail of customer experience and satisfaction, is impossible. Until we get it 100% right, and 100% of the time, we’re still flailing around in the dark.


* https://econsultancy.com/blog/68446-marketing-is-failing-at-its-top-priority-three-findings-from-new-research/

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