What is Customer 360?

Understanding the Basics and Benefits

Customer 360 explained

Use customer 360 to win new business and help customers thrive

What Is Customer 360?

Customer 360 is a shared, single view of your customer across an organization. It includes not only who the customer is but also their relationships (e.g., households or business affiliations), their activities (i.e., transactions and interactions) and inferred attributes (e.g., sentiment, anniversary dates and lifecycle stages).

With unified customer and related data, you can build robust customer profiles. This helps you gain a 360-degree view of how activities and processes across various functional areas of the business impact the overall customer experience. It also helps you identify areas of friction that should be removed. And you can gain efficiencies by providing employees with the information they need to improve overall personal customer experiences. It also fuels analytics and AI models that free up time for data scientists and business analysts. That way, they can spend less time wrangling data and more time harnessing its value.

With all your 360-customer data corralled into one place, your single customer view becomes a catalyst to build customer relationships. It enables you to create new and innovative ways to engage with customers more consistently and with greater relevance. This makes the experience better for both customers and employees. Customers can receive offers that are relatable and timely, place their trust in frictionless transactions and share their loyalty. Employees can quickly find the information they need. This enables them to provide better service, answer questions, solve problems and deal with concerns.

What Are the Benefits of a Customer 360 Solution?

A solution to create a customer 360 will bridge gaps across data silos and establish an accurate single source of truth for your view of a customer. It will then give everyone in the company that same view. The right customer 360 solution and greater knowledge about a customer can help increase productivity. It will also help you gain efficiency and better focus your strategy meetings. There is less time spent debating whose data is right since your whole team is sharing the same data. 

A single, shared view helps you:  

  • Grow cross-sell and upsell of your products by connecting customer, household and business relationship data with product, channel and activity data.

  • Increase customer retention and loyalty by connecting customer, usage, behavior, activity, support and satisfaction data.  

  • Accelerate business innovation by finding, managing, accessing and trusting sales, operations and finance data. This data can be used to hone scenario analytics and AI models as well as to optimize the introduction of new products / services.

  • Automate and streamline business processes and workflows, so data is accessible from the start to support customer onboarding, customer self-service, service scheduling, and other customer-facing or back-office activities.

  • Improve customer experience and build customer trust by connecting with them in meaningful ways to create moments that matter.

What Challenges Do Companies Face When Trying to Get a Customer 360?

Companies may encounter several roadblocks when they’re trying to establish a complete customer 360 view, including:

  • Data silos / fragmented approaches: Departmental "360" views based on fragmented or siloed data don’t deliver the expected value. This can stymie attempts to create one unified customer profile that can be used by all.

  • Data proliferation: Volumes of data with varying types and formats — plus new data sources and purpose-built applications — can lead to data inconsistencies and fragments that need to be resolved.

  • Data restrictions: With new data privacy / security processes and tools being introduced, it can be challenging for companies to keep up with change. This in turn can make it difficult to understand how they can use their customer data while staying compliant with rules and regulations.

  • Inaccurate data: Incomplete and inaccurate data creates more work for teams to continually fix and cleanse the data for operations, analytics, AI models and reporting. This delays the ability to get accurate insights into changes happening with their customers or the market. Delays, inaccurate data and incomplete insights will hinder customer experience initiatives or strategies.

What Data Sources Should Be Leveraged for a Complete Customer 360?

Enterprises typically have many different types of data sources. When it comes to building a full picture of your customer, you should consider connecting:

  • Internal and external data sources: Bolster your data with other valuable content from other areas of the company (such as billing and order systems) or from outside the company (such as from partners or suppliers). 

  • Third-party data: Enrich your data with business and consumer data from external sources that deliver deeper insights to fuel richer interactions. Figure out what matters most to your business. This may include knowing if your customers are homeowners or renters, the type of automobiles they drive, their occupations, their education level, the businesses they own or work for, and so on. 

  • Privacy data: Use the permissions and consent data (i.e., opting into email or text message communications) provided by your customers to build trust. Demonstrate respect for their consent by knowing that they have indicated that their personal email is okay to use for marketing communications, and their business email is permitted for account updates only.

  • Trusted customer profiles linked with all relevant interactions and insights: Add key insights derived from mobile, social, sensor, machine, web chats and other next-generation data sources.

What Do Companies Need to Do to Create a Customer 360?

Despite understanding which data sources you need to connect to get a full picture of your customers, getting started can still be daunting. It’s easier to look at it in a step-by-step format. Follow these eight steps for building a customer 360:

1) Find and connect your data

Do you know where all your customer data is? The first step is to identify and connect the relevant data sources. This will enable you to take advantage of virtually everything that’s known about your customers.

2) Clean your data

Do you know the current state of your customer data? To make sure it’s usable for customer 360, your data needs to be profiled, cleaned, standardized, and continually monitored. This will help you catch and correct duplicates, inconsistencies, missing data, etc.

3) Master your data

Are there inconsistencies across your systems, blocking your customer 360 view? For example, is the company name listed in your systems in various forms, such as Coca Cola, Coca-Cola, Coca Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Company and so on? See the problem? Creating the master customer record, otherwise known as a “golden record,” helps you reconcile inconsistencies and standardize your data. Then you can create a trusted customer profile from the fragments of customer data scattered across your business.

4) Relate your data

This helps you identify and connect the people, places, things and other attributes that matter most to your business. You can understand households and individuals who live at the same address. Or you can connect customers’ accounts across multiple lines of business. And you can discover why certain behaviors exist. For example, your customer may live on the south side of the city and work on the north end. If you know only their home address, you may never discover why they frequent your location nearest to their office.  

5) Enrich your data

Consider other internal, external and third-party data sources that might add value. This could include social media platforms, information services (such as Experian or Acxiom) or business data / research (such as D&B, LexisNexis or rating agencies such as Fitch or FTSE Russell for ESG).

6) Deliver your data

Publish and share your data across your organization. Use Salesforce, Marketo, SAP, Adobe, a customer data platform (CDP), a data warehouse, a data lake or a data marketplace. And keep your data in sync. This will ensure when changes are made to one system, your customer information is updated across the organization. In this way, your customer 360 solution acts like an atomic clock. It refreshes the applications you rely on with the most current information.

 7) Protect your data

Evaluate where sensitive customer data is accessed and used to determine the level of risk. Incorporate consent management with the trusted customer profile. Create a way for operationalizing privacy controls with ongoing assessment, remediation, monitoring and audit to comply with government, internal and industry privacy regulations.

 8) Govern your data

With data governance guidelines in place and agreed upon, you can ensure your data is compliant with the relevant internal and external policy rules, privacy requirements and regulations. And you’ll help your organization understand how the various data types can be used.

Customer 360 Success Stories

Discount Tire Brings Full Service to CX Transformation

Discount Tire, a U.S.-based tire and wheel retailer, wanted to create a single view of customers and vehicles to improve customer service and deliver end-to-end customer care. They consolidated over 70 million customer records to provide a trusted source of customer data using Informatica Customer 360 capabilities. As a result, they reduced duplicate customer records by 50%, which helped refine customer segmentation. They also were able to improve customer satisfaction with seamless, consistent experiences across channels and accelerate business decision-making by delivering trusted customer information to executives and business users.

TELUS Connects with 17 Million Customers in a Personal Way

TELUS, a communications and digital services provider based in Canada, wanted to maintain its market edge by harnessing data to deliver personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints, uncover new growth opportunities and improve customer service. They developed a single customer view in just nine months and incorporated “golden” customer records in marketing and analytics. TELUS can now design hyper-targeted cross-sell and upsell campaigns. The retailer has also improved customer interactions, cut contact times, reduced incoming calls by 50% and achieved greater customer satisfaction.

Additional Customer 360 Resources