Can a Single View of Your Customer Be a Bad Thing?

"We need to have a single view of our customers!" 

As CRM marketers, we've all sounded this battle cry in the quest to deliver consistent and personalized customer relationships.  Admittedly, brands have made great strides toward attaining this goal, but many have (necessarily) solved only part of the problem: data and channel integration.

For years, CRM marketers have worked to overcome legacy problems of database and channel integration. With one set of customer records resident in billing, another in purchase transaction repositories, another in delivery databases, and still others in marketing repositories, it's no wonder that, depending on the channel a customer used, he or she frequently got disparate treatment, conflicting or irrelevant messages, or repeated requests for information the brand should already have had at its fingertips. 

It's true that many brands now have cross-channel access to a single view of their customers for delivering consistency, but the "last mile" problem remains: Now that they have customer records in one place, how can they know everything their customers care about so they can anticipate needs, personalize interactions, and cross-sell? After all, customers are much more than just a record in a database.

The good news is that mobile, location-based services can provide real-life insights into customers' daily behaviors, providing that multidimensional view.

A Single View Can Provide Consistency, but Personalization? Not so Much

So CRM marketers with access to customer records in an integrated CRM platform now have a single view of the customer, enabling consistent and personalized treatment across channels.

Problem solved, right?

Right—when it comes to consistency.  But wrong when it comes to personalization.                

The challenge is that a single view of the customer typically consists of very basic information—name, address, contact and billing data, and the products they subscribe to or have purchased in the past (for themselves or someone else).  Centralizing these insights enables consistency but tells a CRM marketer little about what customers care about or will respond to in order to personalize interactions and drive revenue.  Even adding aggregate demographics, at best, buckets customers into single-dimensional segments, leaving brands ill-equipped to optimize the value of any customer relationship. 

The fact is, we as consumers are multidimensional creatures with diverse and often changing wants, needs, and interests. Using myself as an example, I'm an avid football and hockey fan, but I'm also am a gym rat and a classic car buff, and I love wine.  Oh, and I love to read, cook, and snow ski.  If brands could know all of this about me, how powerful would it be for true personalization, cross-selling, and predicting buying intent? In a word: very.

Enter Mobile, Location-Based Behavioral Insights

In this new smartphone era, CRM marketers, through their mobile apps, can for the first time get dynamic, individualized knowledge of every dimension of their customers' interests based on where they go and what they do every day. These privacy-friendly insights give them a complete, 360-degree picture of their customers for personalized, compelling, and relevant interactions and effective cross-selling, upselling, and loyalty cultivation. 

To illustrate this point, we took a look inside our own local events and activities database, which anonymously gathers verified behaviors of opted-in app users, based on the local events and activities they attend and the places they go in their daily lives.  From this data, definitive lifestyle patterns emerge giving CRM marketers conclusive insights into the multidimensional interests and passions of their customers.

First, we pulled a sample set of anonymized client-customer records identified as "Pet Devotees," based on their frequent visits to events and places like local pet spas, animal parks, adopt-a-pet events, and pet stores.

What we discovered about these customers was, in addition to being pet lovers:

  • 86 percent of them were also "Cooking Enthusiasts," based on frequent attendance to local cooking classes, gourmet food stores, or specialty shops featuring unique culinary supplies;
  • 79 percent of them were "Nature Explorers," based on frequent visits to hiking club events, campgrounds, or recreational parks; and
  • 71 percent of them were "Parents of Sporting Kids," based on frequent visits to children's sporting events, including club-associated basketball games, gymnastics events, and school-sponsored football games.

This information is very powerful for multi-product retailers, who can target/re-targeting these customers with, for instance, personalized outdoor apparel and gear offers in the spring and ski apparel and gear offers in the fall and winter.

We then pulled another sample set of anonymized client-customer records identified as "Lovers of the Arts," based on their frequent attendance to performing arts theaters, art museums, and festivals.

What we discovered about these customers was, in addition to being arts enthusiasts:

  • 87 percent of them were also "Self-Pamperers," based on frequent visits to health spas, beauty salons, and health and wellness events;
  • 82 percent of them were "Fine Diners," frequently visiting upscale fine dining restaurants; and
  • 77 percent of them were "Wine Connoisseurs," frequently attending wine tasting events, festivals, and wineries.

This information is extremely valuable to hotel companies, for example, for use in personalizing communications and driving loyalty by promoting on-site spa and health club amenities, upscale food and beverage offerings, and near-hotel performing arts and exhibit events.    

CRM brand professionals have made great progress to improve customer relationships through immense efforts to centralize disparate views of customer data. With location-based behavioral insights at their disposal, now they can take the next natural step—turning that single access point into the essential multidimensional view required to truly personalize interactions, maximizing revenue and lifetime value.

David Dague is the chief marketing officer of Gravy, a mobile data analytics, segmentation, and targeting firm. He has nearly 30 years of experience in B2C information services marketing with companies including Neustar, TARGUSinfo American Management Systems and Verizon. David has also served as an adjunct marketing professor teaching at the undergraduate level. 

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