No matter what industry you're in, all customers want to feel like they are the most important customer in your business.

For that feeling to resonate through your customer base, you must not only know as much about each of your customers as possible but also actively use that information to complement your business activity. Remember: Winning a customer costs 5-10 times as much as keeping a customer!

Duplication of customer data, however, can make your customers feel like part of a herd. 

Why Duplication of Data Happens

In general, businesses are holding customer data in various places for different purposes. Even if you're using a single system, the day-to-day data processing within many businesses usually consists of order entry and sales capture for new customer records, which are entered by different people at different stages.

If that is the case within your business, with every new record, there's a risk that incorrect data could be added. For example, contact records could be added with different spellings (leaving multiple records for the same person) or the same company could be added multiple times with different trading names or acronyms.

Though many systems do include some element of duplication on entry, they also demand user action for the majority of processes. That can cause problems as people can be lazy and choose to add a new contact rather than associate it with an existing record, or data may be introduced to the system in a bulk upload, bypassing any protocols that may be in place. All those things could inevitably be presenting you with a blurred reality about your customers.

You're probably thinking that this is just an accepted issue with data entry and that it's not affecting the way you do business. Well, you're wrong.

Here's a look at problems that can happen from using duplicated data.

  • You are sending multiple copies of the same marketing piece to the same person every time you mail. Or worse, you are sending the same person different conflicting offers at the same time.
  • You are trying to sell your customers something that they may have already bought from you.
  • The customers you perceive as your best ones are not necessarily so.
  • You are wasting your marketing budget every time you carry out activity, and your ROI numbers are not pretty.
  • You are adversely affecting your customer attrition rate.

A single customer view effectively eliminates all those issues by removing duplicates at both a contract and a company level, thereby putting all your customer data in one place. That ensures that any transactions present are all associated with one unique instance of a customer record.

Why You Need to Master the Single Customer View

Mastering the single customer view offers significant benefits.

  • You have a definitive view of exactly what a contact or business has purchased from you. That allows you to accurately identify your best customers, ascertain their true value to your business, and engage with them with this in mind—perhaps with a modified tone, message, or offer.
  • You are confident that you are sending the correct marketing piece once to your customers, based on a true representation of how they have transacted with you and interacted with your marketing in the past.
  • Any attempts at cross-selling or upselling are based on an accurate representation of current purchase leader history.
  • You can be confident that you are optimizing your budget spend and minimizing waste. In many cases, you are reducing your campaign costs and improving ROI as a result.
  • Your customers are getting timely, relevant marketing activity from you, and as a result are more likely to be engaged, less likely to leave, and may even provide brand advocacy. A total of 74% of polled UK consumers said they would respond positively to personalized marketing communications.(PDF)
  • Having all your customer data in one place allows you to accurately predict your customer lifecycle. That understanding allows you to implement programs that influence that behavior, such as reducing attrition.

How can you afford not to have a single customer view?

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Creating a single customer view requires a modicum of effort, but the rewards are substantial. It can form the basis of a much improved marketing dialog with your customers, keeping them longer, increasing their value, and finding more like them.

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image of Simon Oliver

Simon Oliver is managing director of Uncommon Knowledge.

LinkedIn: Simon Oliver

Twitter: @Data_Wizardy