For some businesses, achieving a single view of their customers is the goal of the marketing division, but for service-based industries, this information forms the core around which to define the customer experience. But what happens when the data is questionable, either in its relevancy or accuracy? Managers need to determine which of their existing data points contribute to the ability to deliver on customer experience and what new data points will help them build a single version of truth of the customer.

Your customer probably remembers most of the interactions they’ve had with your brand – from discovery online, to word-of-mouth mentions through friends, to the time spent viewing your brand’s Instagram account, to online browsing, and through to the in-store/on-property experience. In other words, when they walk through the front door, they already feel like they know you. Brands have the opportunity to reciprocate by providing an experience that joins together the many fragmented data points informed by each of these customer interactions. The question is, how?

Most businesses will agree that data is an asset, but few have figured out the optimal way to manage it. In an interview with Local Measure, Peter Lee, Customer Experience Consultant at Cisco, said he encourages businesses to begin by asking, “How valuable is the information to the customer’s actual experience in context?” Historically, businesses have collected a lot of information that told them little about who a person actually was or what their preferences were.

Businesses need to first determine whether the data is actually adding to the customer experience. From there, the next questions become how do your CRM data, hotel app, and PMS data interact? Who is responsible for maintaining the data set, and how available is it to hotel employees? The availability of data is central to having a single view of the customer.

     “How valuable is the information to the customer’s actual experience in context?”                                                                                                

In Skift’s 2017 Digital Transformation Report, 87% of respondents said that fragmentation is a concern to their organisation and less than 1 in 5 said they were very confident about their ability to deliver personalised experiences. A heavily siloed business that builds internal walls around their data set is one cause of fragmentation that will prevent the business from obtaining a single view of their customer. In other cases, the data can be held at a dead-end because of the integration limitations of the technology itself.

Lee has found the biggest challenge in obtaining a single view of the customer is often the legacy data baggage that businesses try to carry across. “There’s a point in time where you have to look at legacy systems and realise that maybe the better exercise is to port [the data] into a new technology that will enable different types of real-time and ad hoc queries.” Once a centralised data management system has been obtained, the next challenges are finding people with analytical skills to interpret the data, drilling into it to find meaningful insights, and the ongoing monitoring of data accuracy.

Admittedly, managing these steps is a challenge for many businesses. The barriers commonly include: difficulty in estimating the cost of implementing the new initiative; and achieving the internal buy-in. What it comes down to is the need for a clearly defined business model that shows how the investment in the technology will deliver on the desired business outcome.

See our 6-step strategy for implementing new technologies in our free ebook.

Ultimately, the impact of real-time customer feedback not only benefits customers but also business’ bottom lines. Read the full Total Economic Impact study from Forrester to learn more.