Understanding your customers is key to a successful business, but how do you go about getting a clear view of what they do and don’t like?
An increasingly digital age presents both benefits and challenges for any business looking to market to its customers. Greater access to information and data allows you to better understand your clients, but this also means a more competitive environment and more commercially-aware consumers. That’s why, as a forward-thinking business, you need to develop a system with which to reach your customers in a meaningful way, and to be able to do so better than your competitors.
What is a 360-degree customer view?
Achieving a 360-degree view is the way in which your business can go about properly understanding your target customers. This means having all of your customer data in one central location, which can be accessed at any point when an interaction with that customer arises. This database allows you to properly segment and analyse your customers based on a multitude of different pieces of information.
What benefits will this bring your business?
Having a 360-degree view of all of your customers is a highly beneficial position to be in, for a number of reasons, such as:
- It allows you to actually understand their wants. Having this data all in one location means you can analyse them strategically and decide what their exact wants are and what services and forms of interaction are best suited to them.
- You can deal with issues and boost retention. If a problem arises with your product or service, then a customer will see your business as a single body whenever they raise a complaint. Having a 360-degree view allows all employees to deal with that customer properly, by understanding their entire journey up until that point.
- Anticipate their needs. Having this data allows you to anticipate any future needs they have, and then upsell. Also, you can spot potential problems they will face before they even occur.
- Better understand your marketing plan as a whole. Such a diverse and concentrated array of information means you can more accurately identify the sorts of customers you attract and what they are looking for. This can be used in adjusting and optimising all marketing strategies, both online and offline.
How to develop your own 360-degree customer view
Developing and implementing a system within your organisation to achieve a 360-degree customer view, will take time and a desire to adapt to new strategies. Broadly speaking, here's a 3 step process you need to follow.
1. Create a central database
A central database is integral for having somewhere to store and present all the necessary data. It needs to be available to the right people at the right time, whenever a customer interaction occurs. There is no one-stop solution for this, as it will depend on how your business markets itself. However, say for example you have an outbound call centre for following up leads, whenever a prospect answers the phone, your sales assistant must have all the necessary data surrounding that customer in front of them in an easily digestible way.
2. Put systems in place
Once you have your central database, you will of course, as mentioned, need to have it in place for exactly when you need it. However, you will also need systems in place to quickly and effectively transfer this data to the central location, as and when it is collected. Failure to pass this data along immediately can cause asymmetry of information across the company, and take away from the intended smooth customer-business relationship you are looking to build.
3. Properly train all staff
All staff, both old and new, need to be fully trained on how to access and use this database to its full potential. It is not worth investing the time and money into building it and implementing systems if it is then not put to use. Your staff are the people who will most frequently be using this central store of data, so make them a part of the consultation process when you are building and implementing this system.
Sources to gather deeper levels of data
The ways in which you are able to gather data to assist in your 360-degree customer view will depend on your specific circumstances, but here are some common sources:
- Customer feedback
- Support ticketing
- Sales calls
- Social media
- CRM systems
Deciding to commit to building this system is the first step to take, and a challenge you should not take lightly. However, properly implementing these systems will put you ahead of your competition by allowing you to understand your customers on a far more personalised level.
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