A single customer view
- Offering a seamless experience across channels will be essential as ‘digital natives’ come of age
- Only eight per cent of retailers currently run all their service channels from a unified system
- Achieving a single customer view is as much about organizational change as it is technology
If you were in any doubt that increasing the range of sales channels available to customers is a top priority for retailers, the recent filing of two patents by Walmart for a VR showroom and fulfillment center certainly adds to the mounting evidence.
As the world’s largest business, there’s no question that Walmart’s primarily physical-retail based model has been a big success. However, it’s also clear that the brand understands that it now needs to compete in an omnichannel world. That’s why it has invested $1.2 billion in upgrading its online platform to deliver what it calls a “seamless shopping experience at scale”, whether customers choose to shop in-store, online or using a mobile device.
When it comes to delivering an effective omnichannel customer service program, ‘seamless’ is the key word.
According to our retail white paper, as the first generation of so-called digital natives – those who can’t remember a time before digital technology – constitute an increasingly large proportion of consumers, the ability to interact with brands however they choose will be a standard expectation.
To achieve this, every channel available to a customer needs to be connected, and customer service agents need to be able to see a full history of interactions, wherever and whenever they happened. That means establishing a customer relationship-management system that brings every means of communication into the same place.
There’s some way to go
However, research by Dimension Data shows that the average retailer has a lot of work to do before customer service managers are able to access a comprehensive record of interactions across channels.
In fact, only 76 per cent have any degree of connection between channels, just 22 per cent have the majority of their channels connected, and a mere eight per cent – less than one in 10 – have all channels connected.
To make matters worse, under half of retailers – 42 per cent – said that customer data is not actively shared between teams handling service delivery via different channels.
This disconnected data, scattered across the organization, is a major barrier to any retailer’s ability to understand and serve the customer.
Unlocking the potential of customer data
A single customer view brings this data together in a meaningful way, usually via a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This provides companies — and their contact centers — with a unified source of customer information. Only once they have this in place can retailers see what their customers really want, where they are heading, and how they can help them get there.
Of course, most retailers don’t have access to the sizeable resources available to Walmart, but this shouldn’t prevent those that are willing to embrace change from developing single view capability.
That’s because achieving a single customer view is as much about adjusting to new ways of working as it is investing in the latest technology. The key is to take a holistic look at the whole organization and understand where the customer information is currently held.
Where once the multiple, incompatible silos in which data is often held was a major barrier to single customer view, now a range of smart and increasingly affordable technological solutions exist for cleaning, analyzing and organizing this information into one place.
The final, and arguably most challenging, step is to put in place a team that can deliver excellent customer service across every channel. Establishing best-practice guidance and training your people to deliver it is key, and this will be where much of the investment of time and money will be required.
But, for retailers that get it right, the prize on offer is significant. With 81 per cent of businesses acknowledging that excellent customer service is a competitive differentiator, those that are able to achieve omnichannel excellence will be well-placed to capitalize on the changing needs of tomorrow’s consumers.
Learn how Arvato can help you achieve a single customer view.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.