Single customer view barriers: fragmented organisational structures and inadequate technology

September 6, 2016

Achieving a single customer view is a top priority for companies of all shapes and sizes. But it’s no mean feat to gather customer data in a way to attain this unified view – 81% of marketers see developing a single customer view as a challenge, according to Experian.

However new research by Experian seems to suggest, as presented by The Drum, that many organisations are guilty of making their lives even harder by creating fragmented organisational structures that split marketing teams by channel, rather than customer. We have found this with multinational organisations, but have achieved significant success in breaking down barriers and speeding time to market by deploying seamless systems for global behemoths such as Panasonic.

Achieving a single customer view “requires a customer’s product relationships to be brought together, usually by matching name, address and date of birth,” Experian explains in its definition of the approach.

That’s hardly possible, though, in channel-focused structures, which inevitably lead to ‘siloisation’ of information.

Why is attaining a single customer view so important?

The better you know your customers, the better your marketing efforts will be. In theory, anyway. A single customer view gives you the platform to provide more and more useful, relevant and enjoyable experiences for your customers.

It’s easy to see why, then, that 97% of the 1,100 global marketers quizzed by Experian recognise the importance of having a truly holistic understanding of customers.

To execute an effective cross-marketing strategy, the data that provides the insight for the strategy needs to come from every channel and every touchpoint, otherwise you’ll never be able to offer a seamless experience.

“If a single channel is separate, how are you going to be able to communicate with the customer as a brand in anything but a disjointed manner?” Tom Blacksell, Experian managing director of marketing services, UK & Ireland, rightly notes.

Customers have come to expect that brands are able to deliver a seamless and consistent cross-channel service. Whichever channel they reach out on, your customers expect their experience to be the same.

Big brands suffering from channel barriers

The bigger the business, the more likely it is they will run into channel barriers as they go about achieving a single customer view, the research suggests.

Some 59% of the marketers questioned in enterprise level businesses – those with a turnover of more than $1bn (£767m) – said they work in teams broken out by channel. As a result, larger businesses are 31% more likely to encounter issues.

However, it’s reassuring to see that eliminating internal silos is a top priority for 42% of C-level executives at these companies.

Of the marketers in mid-market companies – those with a turnover of $25m (£19m) to $1bn (£767m) – 26% said they were working in teams split out by channel, dropping to 19% for marketers in smaller market companies (turning over less than £19m).

It’s somewhat commonsensical that bigger brands find it harder to execute a seamless, multi-channel approach, of course. They might have grown up in the offline world, for example, evolving into multichannel structures over time.

Smaller businesses, on the other hand, are naturally swifter and more flexible, having grown up in the multichannel world.

Firms also struggling to find the right technological fit

Probably the most interesting findings from the Experian research for us here at Proctor + Stevenson were the answers given on the top challenges to creating a single customer view.

As far as enterprise companies are concerned, they are struggling to find a solution that works as they want it to. The top challenge, cited by 54% of enterprise marketers, was sourcing technology that allows customer data to be integrated in real time.

That was followed by the inability to integrate multiple data sources (49%) and the struggle to access data across the organisation (48%).

We have had some success in creating integrated global data interfaces, connecting product designers seamlessly with colleagues in the territories. This can point to how a single customer view could be developed but organisations also need to reflect how their customers behave in its internal structures with technology sympathetic to the real-time need.

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director