Why a 360-degree view of the customer doesn’t add up

May 10, 2018

Article guest contributed by Kristin Kelly, Director of Marketing at Power Factors 

We all know it when we encounter it. Whether it’s your doctor, your phone company, or your bank, exceptional customer experience has become a competitive differentiator. To capitalize on this movement, organizations are turning to technology to drive customer-focused services and even revamp business models around customer experience. 

If customer experience is a differentiator, then what’s wrong with a 360-degree view of the customer? In short, relying on a 360-degree view ultimately serves a process instead of helping organizations deliver experiences that today’s customers are demanding. If you think about it, a “degree” measures an angle, which is defined as two, joined rays that lie within a single plane. One can sweep a ray to form a circle, but mathematically, an angle will always be unidimensional. Likewise, a “360-degree view” only looks at the customer through a single lens, even if analytics or AI applications are available. For example, using only traditional CRM data to understand customers defines them uniquely as buyers instead of identifying real-time needs spanning sales, services, and marketing. 

So in the age of information, what replaces the 360-degree view? Advances in sensor technology and analytics have made it possible to digitize and analyze more information sources than ever. The art of customer experience lies not in understanding a single facet of customer behavior but in the nexus of multiple data sources including sales, service, IoT, and marketing. Research shows that Salesforce customers that have merged Salesforce clouds (e.g. Sales, Service, Marketing) are 10% more likely to believe they can use Salesforce to drive innovation and feel that they have a more a complete customer view. 

The good news for many organizations is that they already understand the importance of capturing many of these data types. More likely, major roadblocks lie with traditional organizational culprits such as data silos, legacy systems, underinvestment in AI technology, or failure of the organization as a whole to commit to a customer platform. Even companies investing in technology platforms like Salesforce are not using it to its fullest extent. Despite the clear advantages of adopting and merging clouds, Salesforce customers still have their primary focus on Sales Cloud

If the Ubers and AirBnB’s have taught us anything, it’s that the customer still matters - even in the digital age. For organizations not “born from data,” taking the first steps toward transforming technology in order to deliver modern customer experiences can be the hardest part. 

For more on how the best companies use Salesforce, download The State of Salesforce report. An annual report based on data from 1,800+ Salesforce customers.

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