Marketing December 11, 2017 Last updated December 10th, 2017 2,645 Reads share

Why You Need a Single Customer View and How to Put it to Use

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You’ve likely heard a lot about the Single Customer View (SCV), or 360 View of the Customer. Yet while these terms crop up often, there’s still misunderstanding about what they are, and how an SCV can benefit your business.

As marketers strive for relevant engagements with customers, they must accumulate as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

The good news is that data about your customers is collected from many different first and third party sources. For example, your email, website, social media, call centres, mobile app, point of sale and so on. Each of these channels collects a jigsaw piece of intelligence that can help a business learn more about a customer’s behaviour, profile and preferences.

The bad news is that this data gets collected and stored in data siloes. Much like a puzzle scattered across different rooms. A Single Customer View is a process that brings all the pieces together, removing any duplicates or incorrect shapes (in the case of an SCV this can mean erroneous data, liked an incorrectly spelled address), to form a complete and accurate picture of each customer.

An SCV can even incorporate additional third party data to enrich this picture further, adding greater depth to your knowledge of them that your business might not otherwise be able to collect. For example, the demographic, socio economic and behavioural characteristics of consumers. Many refer to this picture as the ‘golden record’ or ‘single source of truth’.

With the confusion and guesswork removed by the Single Customer View, these golden records can be used for more accurate segmentation, to send more efficient email and direct mail campaigns, create personalized communications and deliver a better customer experience.

SCVs and GDPR Compliance

Better management of your customer records will also help brands take a significant step towards compliant use of personal data. As the EU (and UK, post-Brexit) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rumbles ever closer, an SCV will come in handy.

Improved rights for individuals over how they can control their personal data is the driving force of GDPR. One way this can be exercised is with the ability for an individual to issue a Subject Access Request (SAR). This is where a consumer can insist you reveal all the data you hold about them, how long you’ve held it and whom you’ve shared it with.

As if GDPR and threats of multi-million pound fines weren’t enough, returning SAR requests within the 30-day limit, at scale, is another black cloud hanging above our heads. Especially when you factor in that consumers can now claim compensation if your use of their data has caused ‘distress’,

While it won’t stop people making a Subject Access Request, a Single Customer View can take out some of the stress, and reduce the labour involved responding to one, because:

  1. You already have a golden record, it will be quicker and easier to locate and extract information you hold.
  2. An SCV will also provide an audit trail of customer contact and transaction history. This means it will be easier to prove when and where you received compliance to market to an individual.
  3. As an SCV uses constantly refreshed and aggregated data, it applies the latest suppressions and unsubscribes to your customer records. This mitigates your risk of sending marketing material to someone who doesn’t want it, and the likelihood of them issuing the SAR in the first place.

Multiple Single Customer Views?

If a SCV is your ‘single source of truth’, why on earth would you need more than one of them? It’s rather selfish to assume that a Single Customer View is only of use to marketing departments and marketer. What about sales? What about logistics? They too would benefit from a single view of a customer, but their needs can be very different. A golden record for logistics would be useful when a customer has multiple addresses (a company with an HQ and regional branches, for example), but it would have little use for their purchase history.

What about a retailer that owns and sells multiple brands? The customers for brand A could be different for brand B and each will need its own SCV, in order to treat each brand’s customers appropriately.

How do I use a Single Customer View?

SCV stats

So, as you’ve gathered, creating a Single Customer View (or views) is good. After all, you’ve achieved something that 82% of marketers had yet to achieve in 2016. Even so, this intelligence they collect needs activation and it needs to be delivered.

This is where a Customer Data Platform (CDP) comes into play. A CDP ingest all your data sources and unify this data with a Single Customer View process. Then it makes the resulting golden records usable by all the marketing systems you connect to it.

Some CDPs take this even further with integrated customer analytics and a decision layer for multi-channel customer journey orchestration. It means using your golden record for campaigns and personalisation, and executing through whatever tool and channel you choose to connect to it. This could be your email, your ecommerce site, and so on.


A Single Customer View helps many marketers achieve their dream of unified customer data. However, while it provides the foundation for better marketing and more dutiful management of customer data, it does not on its own create a unified customer experience. Which, as you might imagine, is all your customers care about. For that, an ideal solution involves not just an SCV but a CDP. Ideally with some form of integrated multi-channel decision management. This will help you create personalised campaigns, and deliver these messages to the most appropriate place. This might seem daunting, but seek out the right solution and you can have all this in a single package.

Anthony Botibol

Anthony Botibol

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