By Carlos Bravo

Why a single view of the customer is a must in retail

It goes without saying – no customers equals no sales. 

It doesn’t matter how good your product is. If you’re not meeting ever-increasing expectations, understanding who your customer is, personalising their journey and rewarding their loyalty, they’re unlikely to get past the physical or metaphorical front door. 

And if they do, they’re unlikely to come back. 

In today’s retail industry, an obsession about the customer is an absolute must – and that begins with having a 360-degree, single view of each and every one of them. 

Since early 2020, the retail industry has been turned on its head – distribution channels have been disrupted, and an omnichannel strategy has become essential. 

The expectation is to now deliver a frictionless, consistent engagement across online and offline – it simply isn’t acceptable for those two experiences to differ in any way.

Of course, at the heart of delivering this experience lies in data. 

Data: the crucial retail ingredient 

Bringing all of that together into a usable and actionable dashboard is a hurdle that’s challenging for many businesses to jump. Sometimes because they don’t have enough data, other times because they have too much. 

Many companies have multiple identifiers for the same customer (which are usually inconsistent) – often a consequence of treating online and in-store as different experiences, and because different departments hold different data sources. 

As a result, there are huge volumes of fragmented – and contradictory – information, which leads to segmentation mistakes, misguided insights and poor personalisation.

To begin to meet the expectations of customers – to feel valued and to be treated as an individual – this data needs to be rationalised and streamlined. 

However, that’s only the beginning – to truly know your customer you need to connect data sources to unlock deeper insights. 

Creating a unified view of your retail custome

In our consumer lives, we all expect a personal, individual and relevant experience with the brands that we deal with – whether it’s our supermarket deals or our clothes store offers. 

And we expect that to traverse all platforms. Online or in-store, via mobile or on social, the experience must be consistent and seamless – and if retail brands can harness the power of AI and predictive analytics, and connect those external data sources such as social media, that is eminently achievable. 

Recently, we worked with a leading Australian department store, to help the business do exactly this – create a single view of the customer by bringing all customer interactions into one place, as well as re-engineer the onboarding process. 

Using Salesforce Service Cloud, we were able to unify a fragmented customer ticketing system that was causing a backlog in the business and the result was the delivery of a smoother loyalty program experience. 

Crucially, to help the customer support team, social media, live chat, emails and phone support were brought into one place to enable the team to deliver a consistent and seamless experience. 

Whereas it was previously challenging for this retailer to meet its 24-hour target response time, response times have reduced significantly and are still improving as the new system becomes more familiar to staff. 

It’s of paramount importance that retailers not only understand who their customers are and what they expect, but also know how to best deliver against those expectations.

And having a single view of the customer is the first step towards that.  

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