Customer 360, aka C360, quite simply, is interacting with your customers across multiple channels. The multiple channels could be social media properties and your own website. But Customer 360 is also gathering all of that multi-channel customer data and melding it with all of your internal applications that also house valuable customer data so you can use it at the time of the customer interaction to improve the customer experience.
Don’t you hate it when you call a company and have to enter your “customer id” to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system? And then when you finally talk to a human you have to tell them your “customer id” again. Then after 3 minutes of explaining your problem to the customer service rep she says, “let me put you on hold while I bring up your information on another system.”
If you aren’t sure what your Customer 360 project should solve first…start with this!! Tackling this first is foundational to any other problems you may want to solve.
Customer 360 is:
“360 degree view” projects are not only useful for gaining customer insights.
Would you know where to start a Customer 360 project if you were asked to start one tomorrow? Are you convinced your existing Customer 360 project will succeed?
There are hundreds of firms that will help you with your Customer 360 journey. They will tell you why you need a Customer 360 project. And of course they’ll provide you with a catalog of services to help you. They’ll then tell you these are 12-18 month projects. There’s way too much risk with a long-term project like that.
And most of these vendors will NOT show you how they actually implement Customer 360. Even if you ask them pointedly. The vendors that do show you the HOWS want you locked-in to their products. Said differently, they are selling you a generic product providing them with recurring revenue. This might be a good solution, but you won’t know up-front.
I don’t tell you WHAT you should do for YOUR Customer 360 project because I know every client’s need is different. I learn your problem first. And if you aren’t sure what your “problem” is…I’ll show a great place to start your Customer 360 project that actually shows value, quickly, for anyone.
I then help you with a novel approach to getting a “Customer 360 MVP” in production, quickly (MVP is a “lean” term for Minimum Viable Product). I then learn with you what directions make sense for your Customer 360 Journey. I am never “prescriptive” (do THIS, then THAT, using THIS solution). I am “proscriptive” (avoid doing THIS and THAT).
As I said above, the best place to start is solving the call center problem.
But, if you aren’t sure why to start I’ll show you where my previous client’s have started and how to manage a successful implementation. Read on.
Vendors will try to sell you their product or service by calling it “Customer 360”. Be careful. Listen carefully, is this just some repackaged offering from 10 years ago?
Some vendors want to take your customer data that probably resides in various CRMs, support systems, accounting databases, websites, etc and “integrate” it into whatever solution they are selling you. This seems similar to a data mart/warehouse. These are valuable tools to be sure. But these projects take months to years to implement and have a high risk of failure. Meanwhile, you haven’t solved your short-term pain.
Some people use “SCV” and “Customer 360” interchangeably. Traditionally SCV has been a “mastered” customer record that sits in one database and feeds all other systems that need customer data. That’s not Customer 360. As I just described it, SCV requires A LOT of ETL work. I believe that SCV is a panacea for sure, but probably unattainable. Instead, I focus on NOT copying/moving the data to the Customer 360 system, rather the Customer 360 should have real-time insights into the source systems. Read on for how I do this.
A CRM system is rarely a good choice for a C360 solution. But it is the first solution your CRM vendor will propose. Why? Because they want to sell you even more “vendor lock-in”. Don’t fall for it.
But why shouldn’t my CRM system also be my Customer 360 system?
Your customer data probably primarily lives in your CRM anyway, right? But you probably also have valuable customer data in other systems…AR data in your accounting solution, browsing history in your website logs, even social media. How long will it take you to acquire that data and push it into your CRM? Weeks? Months?
I’ve seen clients spend inordinate amounts of time customizing and adding requisite fields to Salesforce objects like lead, contact, and account to try to leverage Salesforce as a C360 solution. I’ve never seen one of these projects actually complete.
And the data is only really valuable if it is near real-time. At the time the customer calls, you want to look at the shopping cart abandonment logs, not wait for the nightly batch feed into the CRM system. These solutions introduce “data movement” problems. Data Movement projects take forever and rarely succeed. This is no different than building another data mart. I recently wrote how you can avoid Data Movement Project Failures, those ideas work equally well with Customer 360 projects.
And I’ll bet that not every customer interaction occurs when your CRM system is in front of your user.
I see “a data lake” as a proposed C360 solution a lot. Who proposes these solutions? Vendors with a vested interest in selling you more of their database or data lake product. What’s wrong with these solutions? The inference is again, “data movement”. It will take months, if not years, to copy your customer data from the source system to these data repositories. And will the data be real-time? And now you have to build the UI. And now you need data governance. It’s exhausting.
Pro tip: Never copy data if you don’t have to
These solutions are proposed by MDM vendors. “Put your Customer Master Data into our system and we’ll manage your Customer 360 needs. We’ll even help you find Data Quality problems with your customer data. Finally, we’ll push the mastered data into every other system”. Do you see the implication? Data movement. How long will it take to build this solution? Will it be real-time?
Secret: Everyone says they want “data quality”, but only your accountants really NEED it. When the books don’t balance you have a data quality problem and your accountants scream. But does it really matter if your customer’s address is
123 Main St in one system and
123 Main Street in another? Don’t let PERFECT be the enemy of GOOD ENOUGH
That may sound harsh and your DBA will probably scream that the above assertion is WRONG, but it’s true. Marketers care more about getting timely data that may not be perfect over perfect data a week later. A really good C360 system can ultimately help you uncover REAL data quality issues, without obsessing over minutiae. Better data quality is A GOAL of Customer 360, but not THE GOAL, and we definitely don’t advocate using a MDM/DQS system to do it.
Every Customer 360 solution will be different, but here’s the best way to start:
These “screens” (I call them System 1 dashboards) can interface with underlying data from various source systems via REST APIs. The screens are actually REST calls themselves, which is much easier to embed in a Salesforce application than trying to move the underlying data to Salesforce and building the SOQL queries and interface there. With a “virtual Customer 360” solution you can now tackle your customer problems QUICKLY.
System 1 thinking is automatic and intuitive thought. It allows you to react quickly. This is exactly what you want for a Customer 360 dashboard. These dashboards are usually “red/yellow/green light” and filled with actionable information. System 2 thinking is more analytical and purposeful. It answers harder questions but requires more time to process. Marketers and call center reps prefer System 1 processes that cna give them something actionable at the time of the customer interaction.
This is the easiest place to start most Customer 360 journeys. What information would you actually display on your cs agent’s desktop if you could? The “screens” that you build can quickly display key information to your reps regardless of the CRM platform you use.
These systems avoid repetitive, costly work like re-keying of information. The customer is happy because the cs rep now knows the entire customer history, which helps to establish context. Pretty soon you are learning exactly HOW your reps are interacting with your customers and what methods work. You can now use ML to help your reps drive to desired outcomes.
In an upcoming section I’ll show you exactly how I build this dashboard in under a month.
I follow these best practices:
“Build it, they will come”
This only works in Kevin Costner movies. Don’t force your users to use YOUR C360 system, integrate it into whatever they use today.
Once you have a basic Customer 360 system (I advocate the System 1 Dashboard) you can quickly move to:
Imagine proposing products to your customer based on the weather where your customer lives. That’s geo-location analytics. ‘Weather Data’ is the #1 data element all of my clients are trying to integrate into their existing data.
The goal of this phase is to react faster during the customer interaction. We prefer System 1 Dashboards for this.
The above can usually be done in under a month. The screens are usually very basic, but this is good. This lets you experiment with look-and-feel and what the most important content is, quickly.
Start with acquiring the data that will matter the most: the RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) data. This data will help you determine which customers are your best by focusing on the 3 factors that matter most. This is a quick effort.
Notice I haven’t told you EXACTLY HOW to implement this. Every client is different. During this phase you begin to see what the future looks like, you begin to see the overlapping and conflicting data issues that exist, you start to see why your customers are unhappy and why to fix it. What you haven’t done is built another data silo in another database that needs to be backed up. We haven’t implemented Hadoop or some monolithic data lake.
This is NOT an expensive undertaking.
Phase 2 is different for every customer, but what I’ve found is that our clients want to make decisions and interactions faster at this stage. Here’s what I do:
At this point all my clients have learned a significant amount about their customers and business. This phase, minimally, takes the data from the previous phases and makes it “predictive” from simply “reactive”.
By this point I no longer have to make suggestions to clients. By now they have their own ideas and they are salivating to implement them. Some examples:
What nagging customer problem do you have today? Or, think up a use case for customer data that isn’t currently possible for you today. Now think of how you could solve it with my approach. It doesn’t seem so daunting now, does it?
Contact me to learn more and get started.
Up to table of contents
Thanks for reading. If you found this interesting please subscribe to my blog.
Dave Wentzel CONTENT
architecture case study