Being able to view all of your customer data in one, easy to access location will help you target your customers effectively and encourage growth.
Whatever stage your business is at, you’ll notice the tools, activities, and customers linked to your business changes as it grows and matures. Today, let’s focus on your customers.
It might simply be the case that the number of customers you work with has increased, or perhaps your clientele has become more specific as you’ve refined your services, either way, you’ll have a significant amount of data about them. However, is it organised? And to what extent are you using it to better understand them, or improve the services you provide?
Your data is capable of doing more than just helping you organise jobs and contact people; it can give you valuable insight as to who your customers are and what they want. However, this is only useful if your data is integrated and effectively organised into a single customer view. If you’ve not yet got your database sorted, click to check out our information on setting up a customer database. However, if you have, but you’re not entirely sure what a single customer view is: no problem, let’s explore below.
The Single Customer View
Experian defines it like this: “Single Customer View (SCV) is where all the data you hold about each of your customers is stored and consolidated into one single, easy to read record in your database.”
Is essence, rather than going into one piece of software (or, god forbid, reams of paperwork) to look at a customer invoice, another location to look at their contact information, then another to book or review the work you've done for them, you need to work with a system that lets you view all of this in one “single” place.Having data that’s scattered and difficult to collate is of no use to anyone. It often results in duplication and frequent errors. The immediate benefits of a single customer view are rather obvious: saving you time and effort, but it goes beyond that, too. If used correctly, a single customer view can:
- improve marketing,
- increase customer loyalty,
- influence business decisions.
It’s not just about making your data accessible, it’s about developing your practical knowledge of your customers and integrating best practices so you can continually improve. This leads us neatly on to...
Customer Data Integration
Here, we’d like to take a moment to review some of the specific benefits of Customer Data Integration, or CDI. Again, from Experian, “CDI is the process of consolidating and then properly managing information about your customers from all available business sources, including all known:
- Contact details
- Financial data associated to that client
- Information gathered through marketing activities.
CDI ensures that all departments in the company have constant access to the most current and complete view of customer information.”
As you’ve grown you’ll have employed more people, from engineers in the field to staff in the office, and will have had to think about ways to keep everyone connected. Even the simplest methods will help you run your business more efficiently, but in order to stay on top of things and better manage your company you need to have an integrated customer view of customers both on an individual level and across the various segments of your business (office staff, engineers, payroll, etc.).
Let’s consider both aspects below:
On an individual operational level:
Supposing you have an engineer out in the field with an open time-slot and you want to send them to a customer who is not on their schedule. If they have the ability to see the customer’s details, including service history, it will mean they are better placed to turn up well-informed and well-equipped to provide a good service.
Given that the nature of your business is, in part, to manage a mobile workforce of service engineer, providing them with the ability to access an integrated view of the customer (i.e. via mobile device) will play a critical role in your success.
When service engineers, office staff, marketers and salespeople can all access correct information on a timely basis, stronger customer experiences happen—particularly in more complex, relationship-based interactions with high-value business customers. The bottom line is that information should be easy to access for everyone, no matter where they are. Have you established a single point for everyone to access your data?
On the segmented level:
To take a simple but highly practical example, you may want to know which customers are due for a particular type of service within a specific time-frame. Knowing this will enable you to send out service reminders to the right people, with minimum manual effort. Market segmentation should have a starring role in your marketing strategy.
Efficiency like this presents a professional image and can help with repeat business. As you become more sophisticated in your marketing, you can even use the integrated view of your customers to promote your services in a highly targeted fashion.
The marketing experts at HubSpot have some excellent insights into customer loyalty. They discus segmentation too, providing insightful benefits, like it helping you to stay "ahead of [...] competitors by developing products that your customers actually need" and letting you personalise "customer communications according to your targeted segments".
For example, sticking with the idea of service reminders, you could create two campaigns by dividing your data. First, target customers who have had a service and second, target those who are yet to have one. The first campaign could offer customers a discount for rebooking their service appointment (thus awarding their loyalty), while the other campaign could be a simple invite, suggesting that customers consider booking a service review (a helpful reminder that builds trust).
Divisions like this are easy to see when data is neatly organised and managed (in this case, showing you who has and hasn't had a service).
Tactical marketing like this is called market segmentation. With integrated communication tools, you can more easily interact with your users.
Essentially, it involves selecting a subset of customers who are most likely to respond to a particular offer at a particular time. For example, when you attempt cross-selling (a customer has bought “Product X”, so is likely to purchase “Product Y”) and up-selling (if a customer falls into a specific segment, they are likely to invest in a higher value product).
Additional benefits of an integrated customer view:
- Delivers a better customer experience
- Handles risk more effectively
- Identifies your most – and least – profitable customers
- Identifies opportunities to increase revenue and profitability
- Increases customer loyalty (e.g. through timely communication)
- Reduces the administrative burden on office staff
- Uses engineers’ time more effectively
- Gives every customer interaction “context” (e.g. by knowing a customer’s history, you will be better placed to handle feedback or complaints appropriately)
Not just tech, but processes
It’s important to note that the single, integrated customer view will depend on your processes and services, as well as the technology you use.
We’ve mentioned how your actual database will help you, but a great deal of this also rests on you putting in the effort to establish best practices, particularly around information gathering, which needs to become a habit to effectively increase the value of data quality.
If processes are hard, you may need to ask some questions about the systems (or lack of) that you’re using. Are you making the most out of your chosen option? Is your chosen solution helping you achieve the things it promised? Asking the questions will give you the chance to gain perspective and react appropriately and wisely.
Selecting a technology partner
Given that effective CDI depends on a combination of technology, processes and services, selecting the right database for your company is a vitally important first step.
If you’re not already, or if you feel you could improve your data processes, then there’s certainly some great tactics you could take on board to benefit. A purpose-designed software suite will make all of these processes far easier. When choosing yours, consider:
- Which system is most (easily) adaptable to the way you do business?
- Which system offers the features that are of most importance to me?
- Do the candidate systems integrate with programs that we already have installed, such as accounting packages?
- Which of the suppliers offers the best knowledge of my business, i.e. working with plumbing, gas, oil heating or electrical service companies?
- Which of the systems on offer seems easiest to use? (In answering that question, consider all of the types of devices that will be used – typically desktop PCs in the head office and smartphones or tablets out in the field)
- Who provides the best training?
- Who provides the best post-implementation support?
The Takeaway & Next Steps
If creating the single customer view for operational and marketing purposes is a critical initiative for your business (and with all the potential benefits, it should be), you can begin by calculating the business case in financial terms.
If you can understand and demonstrate where and how you can deliver cost savings and revenue enhancement, and demonstrate this to your team, you’ll be able to secure growth of the business as well. The ability of your database to solve challenges and establish a practical, single view of the customer will return on your investment of both time and money.
You should make sure you're doing everything you can to manage your system as best you can, so we'd encourage you to check out the highlights of the 4 Best Practices to Managing your Database. Fortunately, we've put together a handy infographic you can download!
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