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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

The Value of a Customer 360 Program

Getting to know more about your customers can strengthen and solidify your relationships with them.

Know thy customer!

This is the mantra of modern businesses and in the age of advanced analytics, businesses know more about their customers than ever before! This revolution of gaining more insight into your customer is leading to new business models, increased revenue, and greater customer retention! All of which are at the heart of customer relationship management (CRM), which is critical to tracking daily customer interactions. However, it is the 360-degree view of the customer that fulfills the broader goal of knowing your customer!

To fully understand if you are getting the greatest value of what I'll call your "Customer 360" program, let's explore its challenges, approaches, and maturity.

Customer 360 provides an enterprise insight into the many facets of its customers by linking all critical and meaningful data to customer records. With such a program, enterprises can enjoy a much deeper understanding of the customer by seeing their multi-dimensional patterns, which reveal their propensity to desire, prefer, dislike, or need a product or the likelihood they'll perform a specific action including complain, call about, or offer praise or quit a relationship (unsubscribe from or terminate a service). Analytics and data mining tools are only as powerful as the information you feed into them, so a well-implemented Customer 360 program is the most effective way to deeply understand your customers.

Leveraging MDM for Your Customer 360 Program

Customer 360 programs can be found in many places within your business. Often the key focus of a master data management program (MDM) or enterprise data warehouse (EDW) is to enable a Customer 360 program. Don't forget about your CRM program as well. In some businesses, the CRM, MDM, and EDW programs may be performing overlapping work in the technical implementation of their Customer 360 program.

MDM technology can be one of the best ways to create the necessary relationships and merge your isolated customer data into a single customer master. A well-designed MDM architecture will allow you to bring in additional domains, thereby maximizing insight and increasing business value.

Your CRM can leverage the "customer-matching" process of your MDM by using the single version of the truth to better manage customer interactions with your business and create more meaningful operational insights. CRM should span from sales to service since both aspects will provide your largest view of customer activity.

Your EDW, as a key subscriber of your MDM implementation, can also help bring additional transactional information, giving you a more complete, fully rounded view of your customer.

Given that many of these implementations may not be achieving a fully mature Customer 360 program, let's break down some important aspects you may want to consider.

Breadth of information: You need a solid understanding of your customer journey. If you don't have an established customer journey map for your business, I recommend building one because it will help define all the stages of your customer, which helps identify opportunities to build breadth and a true end-to-end view of your customer. This means that you need to know as much as possible about each stage of the customer journey: the "before," "during," and "after" picture. Focus first on the "during" stage. This is where you will find the richness in your day-to-day operations across all of your business domains. Each of these domains hold attributes and process information that will enrich your Customer 360 view. Anything you can link to the customer is a candidate for inclusion in your Customer 360 program.

Depth of information: Customer journey maps also help you break out key understandings of depth. Here we can talk more about the "before" and "after" aspects of customers. For example, sales CRM focuses heavily on prospects, but not all Customer 360 programs focus on prospects. Can your business gain more complete insights of your customer by understanding them as prospects? This can have tremendous value if you can match patterns of prospects to the behavior and outcome of similar customers once they are customers. Such analysis goes well beyond a closed-loop marketing tool of tracking prospect-campaign effectiveness. It allows you to be highly precise in defining your target opportunities and helps you tailor your campaign to be more effective.

Your relationship with your customer can be short- or long-term, but ultimately tracking a customer, even after their journey with your business ends, can bring tremendous value. For example, if your organization is a university, your alumni may be future donors to your school or the parents of students 20 years from now. If you are a telecom business, customers who terminate their service may still return, enabling additional classifications of "returning" customer opportunities, a distinct market group for which you can create more insight.


Regardless of its current state, your Customer 360 program can create significant value for your business both short- and long-term. When customers become more "attached" to your business (when they are more loyal or engaged) because you have personalized your interactions with them, you solidify your relationship to the truly-satisfied customer your business desires. Assessing your program to see if you can improve it will help ensure you have the mature Customer 360 program your business needs.

About the Author

Wes Flores has 25 years of experience in the technology and analytics space making an impact as a senior IT executive with Fortune 100 and SMB companies alike. As a strategist and solution architect, Wes brings a business-first mindset to technology solutions and approaches for his clients. His experience spans private and public sectors across many industries such as telecom, healthcare, insurance, finance, hospitality, and higher education. Wes has been honored with numerous industry awards including Top 25 Information Managers from Information Magazine and the BI Perspectives award from Computer World for Business Intelligence Solutions. Most recently his company, of which he is a co-founder, was recognized as a top 10 analytics solutions provider by CIO Applications magazine. Wes shares his expertise gained in advisory and program leadership roles through industry blogs and international speaking engagements. You can contact the author via email.

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