What is a Single Customer View and Why is it Important?

Rhys Pattimore
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Growing your field service business will always result in lots of new data to manage.  Of course, keeping that data organised—let alone putting it to good use—will be a challenge you need to overcome...

In order to get the most out of the data you collect, you need to keep it organised.

Feature_icon_blue_folders_database@1200xEven with job management software to support you, that job can be easier said than done. It can even seem overwhelming, especially if you’re already struggling to stay organised. 

However, that’s precisely why organising your data into a single customer view (or SCV) can be so helpful. 

This article will help you learn all you need to know about getting your data organised; from explaining exactly what a single customer view is, to highlighting the difference between essential data you should keep, and the information that’s nice to have. Let's get started:

  1. What is a single customer view?
  2. Why is it helpful to have a single customer view?
  3. Customer Data Integration...
  4. How else to use a single customer view
  5. It's not just the tech that's important, but the processes

1. What is a Single Customer View?

Experian, describes a single customer view as being:

“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.” 

With their data presented in this way, your team can provide a more effective customer service experience. That’s because, quite simply, the information they need is easy to see, quick to access, and straightforward to put to use.

graphic_laptop_paper-01Think of it like going on to someone’s profile page on LinkedIn or Facebook. You can search for their name and then open up their profile to see an entire page of information. Their full name, professions, location, photos, likes, comments, and more are displayed.

For your business, an SCV will present a wealth of relevant, insightful information that helps you discover more about that customer without having to click away from that page. Sure: you can expand to see more, but this singular experience is a fantastic springboard to work from.

It certainly beats having to scroll through lots of tabs or—God forbid—flip through reams of paperwork to search for customer invoices and other info. 

A digitised single customer view is all you need.

2. Why is it helpful to have a single customer view?

With all the information available at your fingertips, the data available in a single customer view can help to inform a wide variety of decisions made by your staff, that’s whether they’re out in the field or working in the office.

graphic_work_remotely_cloud_data-01If they can access a wide variety of data, in moments, they can react faster.

Makes sense, right?

Well, while an SCV is great at doing that, it isn’t just about making your data accessible, it’s also about developing practical knowledge of your customers and integrating best practices so you can continually improve. 

The immediate benefits of a single customer view are simple, but effective, mostly in the time and effort it will save you. Of course, if used well, a single customer view can:

  • improve marketing opportunities
  • increase customer loyalty
  • influence business decisions

Knowledge is power, after all, and your team should always be equipped to work smarter, not harder. Having information that’s difficult to collate won’t help them to do that. 

This leads us neatly on to...

3. Customer Data Integration.

As your business grows you’ll employ more people: from engineers in the field to staff in the office, and will have to think about ways to keep everyone connected. 

Even the simplest methods - a phone and email or chat platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams - will help you run your business more efficiently. After all, your team can’t function if they can’t communicate. 

graphic_webinar-01Of course, effective communication requires up-to-date data which is why it’s not only helpful to have a single customer view, but also one that is part of an interconnected database. 

This way, everyone can access the same data and communicate in as close to real-time as possible. This is where Customer Data Integration comes in (or CDI):

Customer data integration is the process of defining, consolidating and managing customer information across an organization's business units and systems to achieve a "single version of the truth" for customer data.

A customer data integration strategy can improve business processes and enable better information sharing among departments.

- TechTarget

What a CDI does is ensure your entire company has access to the most complete view of current customer information so that they can improve sales, deliver greater customer service, and complete their work more efficiently.

It’s one of those fantastic things that massively contributes to job satisfaction; after all, there’s nothing more frustrating than double-data entry, or data going AWOL! 

Of course, in order to stay on top of things and better manage the data your teams collect, you’ll need to have an integrated customer view on both an individual level and across the various segments of your business (such as office staff, engineers, payroll, etc.).

Let’s consider both aspects below:

  • On an individual operational level:

Let’s suppose you have an engineer who’s out in the field and they’re available to take on a new job at the last minute. 

Rather than have to come back to the office and access the information they need, they can instead load up the information on their phone, check the customer’s details—everything from previous service history to preferential notes, or even how to best access the worksite—and all in moments.

graphic_download_mobile-01This way, they can turn up well-informed and better equipped to provide awesome service.

Given that the nature of your business is, in part, to manage a mobile workforce of service engineers, if you can provide them with a detailed single customer view, it will play a critical role in your success.

When service engineers, office staff, marketers, and salespeople can all access correct information in a timely way, stronger customer experiences happen—particularly in more complex, relationship-based interactions where you may well be aiming to create long-lasting connections with customers.

  • 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. 

If that’s the case (and for the majority of service businesses, a service reminder will be a common type of communication) then market segmentation should have a starring role in your marketing strategy. It’s these kinds of communications that can improve customer loyalty too, to which the marketing experts at HubSpot have a thing or two to say regarding marketing segmentation:

It can help you to stay "ahead of [...] competitors by developing products that your customers actually need [and let you personalise] customer communications."

Feature_icon_blue_speech_chat_message@1200xFor example, sticking with the idea of service reminders, you could create two campaigns by dividing your data. In this instance, it's as easy as sending one email to customers who have had a service and a different email to those who haven't.

The first campaign could offer customers a discount for rebooking their service appointment in advance (thus awarding their loyalty), while the other campaign could be an invite, suggesting that customers consider booking with you so you can review their asset (and so it's a way to build trust).

What you’re doing is a form of tactical marketing, but it’s also a more efficient way of communicating with your customers, ensuring you’re not spamming people with all your messages because, in reality, they only need one. You’re choosing the customers who are most likely to respond to a particular offer at a particular time. 

Campaigns like this are easy to do when your customer's data is well managed.

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4. How else to use a single customer view:

Below, you can see a few points that your customer data can help highlight.

From there, you might think of additional campaigns you can run or other ways you can create an impact, thanks to a single customer view you can:

  • Identify your most – and least – profitable customers
  • Identify opportunities to increase revenue and profitability
  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Reduce administrative burdens on office staff and engineers
  • Give every customer interaction “context” (i.e. by knowing a customer’s history, you will be better placed to handle feedback or deal with complaints appropriately)

5. It's not just tech, but the processes that are important

It’s important to note that a viable and productive single customer view will only be useful if your data is well organised. After all, an SCV may present it clearly, but if your data is inaccurate, then it’s not going to be helpful.

Feature_icon_blue_update_sync@1200xWe’ve mentioned how your actual database will help you, but success rests on you putting in the effort to establish best practices for your team, particularly around information gathering, which needs to become a habit to effectively increase the value of data quality. 

Thankfully, there are a wide variety of job management software tools that can make data gathering and storage easier than ever; whether it’s smart forms, certificates, and more besides.

It helps to investigate if you’re getting the most out of your chosen option; is it helping you achieve the things it promised? Asking these questions will give you the chance to gain perspective and react appropriately.

The Takeaway

Your data is capable of doing more than just helping you organise jobs and contact customers; it can give you valuable insights as to who your customers are and what they want.

If creating the single customer view for operational and marketing purposes sounds like it would be a great initiative for your business to pursue (and with all the potential benefits, it should be), then it’s time to get started and put your data to use! 

It’s true that a single customer view can help transform the services you provide and lead to greater success, saving you time and winning you more money to reinvest in your business.

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