Integrating Data for a 360-degree Customer View

By Bernard Luthi, President, Monoprice

Bernard Luthi, President, Monoprice

In this day and age it is very critical to understand your customer and their journey with your organization. Customer engagement is critical given the assortment of options available to a consumer and this requires a thorough understanding of all their interactions and behavior. In today’s modern age, customers interact with your brand in numerous ways – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your company website, your brick-and-mortar shop, phone communication, news media, etc. Hence, data interaction across all customer touch points is very critical and warrants any retailer to create a 360 view of a customer profile for a specialized solution. For any company to be successful, you must succeed in building the relationship you want with them, by way of maximizing your engagement to enhance long-term loyalty and revenue.

According to a 2013 IBM Institute for Business Value provided study, with the ever changing business landscape, nearly 9 out 10 C-suite executives predict extensive collaboration with customers within the next five years, with nearly 6 out of 10 CEOs expecting customer influence to go beyond developing products to playing an integral part in shaping business strategy. These executives anticipate relying on digital technologies more and more to boost engagement and create one-on-one dialogue for a far superior experience. In addition, the study found that outperforming organizations are 54-percent more likely to collaborate deeply with customers than their competition.

There are a few key questions to ask yourself:

1. Who is spearheading the data mining and how are they doing it?

2. Does the data give you accurate insight into which customers are most likely to buy?

3. What are the data sharing impediments within your company and how do you fix them?

4. How are you using the data to increase accuracy in customer engagement and sales?

Getting this act right requires a lot of planning and coordination across departments. I believe it is important to have an iron clad strategy around data infrastructure that covers collection points, technology, data governance and most importantly business processes. 

The challenge I see most companies face is not knowing how to gather the data, but what to do with the data once available. When talking to colleagues at other companies, most agree that analyzing and compartmentalizing data poses the biggest challenge to their teams. Companies need to make sure they invest not just in tools and technology but also a strong team of analysts who can collect accurate data and drive meaningful insights from it. At the end of the day, data is only valuable when it’s put to work for your company and utilized to make a true impact company-wide.

Speaking specifically about Monoprice, we let customers dictate what is important to them via engagement metrics such as click throughs, time on site, page path, and ultimately conversions. When we truly understand customer’s buying patterns across channels via LTV analysis, we’re able to optimize more effectively for the life of our customers. With dedicated teams to observe various customer buying patterns from the past, and find the various customer details in the data set, we can create a better appreciation of how patterns correspond with particular customers. As new customers become brand evangelists, thanks to this dedicated data, we’re better able to match them to these patterns accordingly. For example, we noticed our search functionality wasn’t working as customers hoped and conversions versus site hits weren’t matching up as we’d like. We partnered a more robust search platform and as a result, customers were able to find the products they were looking for and we saw a significant increase in our AOV.

Make no mistake, data analytics has come a long way and there are a lot of tools and technologies that will assist you with collection and integration of the data but this requires deep understanding of the business and ensuring relevant information is being collected.

Any data analytics tool is as good as the information you feed it, hence, the process of creating a 360-degree view of a customer should begin with a blueprint of all customer touch points and through understanding of the business process and technologies involved. With the magnitude of devices and tools used to reach a customer this can be a bit complex but is very essential in understating customer behavior.  

Further it is critical to align your data analytics strategy with overall business goals. Ensure there is a clear understanding of what the business needs and the insights needed to overcome business challenges ahead. To me, the most critical, and perhaps most difficult, part of getting this right is making sure you are collecting the right data. Once you have identified the data points and their sources, half the battle is over.

Data collection blueprints should be paired with technology that will allow you to integrate the various data points and create a holistic view of the business and individual customers. This part seems relatively easy compared to few years ago. With more and more data analytics companies focusing on 360 data collection there are lot of options available. However, be diligent and thoroughly vet to make sure the right technology is being paired based on your data strategy and IT infrastructure.

To conclude integration of data across various sources will continue to be challenging as technologies evolve and consumer behaviors change. Hence, a company should not get too hung up on information that is nearly impossible to collect but focus on data that can be captured and integrated to further understand their customers and grow their business.