Article

Why a 360 customer view is key to great customer service

Leverage data to create a comprehensive view of your customers and provide personalized experiences.

By Cristina Maza, Contributing Writer

Published July 15, 2021
Last updated September 30, 2021

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, ecommerce rose by 30 percent during the global pandemic, and 64 percent of customers said they used a new digital customer support channel in 2020. Clearly, the pandemic pushed more customers online, ramping up their engagement with companies over dozens of touchpoints.

Companies have had to adapt quickly, at a time when customer service has only become more critical—about 50 percent of customers say it’s more important now than it was a year ago. As customer expectations rise, so do the stakes: 80 percent of customers will take their business elsewhere after just one bad experience with a brand. This leaves little room for error.

Providing your customers with a top-notch service experience hinges on having a complete picture of them based on accurate data. A 360-degree customer view will help you to better understand your customers and personalize their experiences, setting your company up for long-term success.

What is a 360 customer view?

A 360-degree customer view is the concept of consolidating customer data from various touchpoints and systems in one place. This helps you and your team gain an accurate picture of your customer and what they need from your company.

The data is typically stored in a CRM system, allowing teams to quickly access all the information they need and provide the best possible customer experience. For example, a service agent won't have to check multiple platforms to see a customer's sales history, whether they follow your brand on social media, and if they've ever made a complaint to the support team. The agent can then tailor the interaction accordingly.

“The goal is to create an engaging and personalized experience for your customers,” says Amy Lin, a product expert at Zendesk.

A 360 customer view can be instrumental in the B2B context when you’re building relationships with multiple stakeholders within a client company. It’s important to have as much context as possible to inform your approach for each stakeholder.

Put it this way: The more data you’re dealing with, the more likely your business can benefit from a 360 customer view.

How a 360 customer view empowers your support team and helps you personalize experiences

A 360-degree customer view gives your team visibility into the customer’s unique relationship with your company and its products or services. Instead of working with just one data point—such as the immediate issue the customer is reaching out about—your employees have a plethora of information that enables them to personalize the service experience based on that particular customer’s journey.

  • Ensures customer information is accurate and accessible

    A 360-degree customer view helps your data stay clean and standardized, ensuring your team doesn’t miss any crucial details that might improve a customer’s support experience.

    Suppose you lack important pieces of information or you have data for one customer stored in multiple formats that are hard to find or differentiate. In those situations, you can easily miss something that the customer would expect you to know about them.

    To do their jobs effectively, your support team also needs access to all critical data about a customer. Your agents don’t want to put a customer on hold while they frantically dig around for information, hoping they find what they’re looking for in a disorganized array of databases. A 360 customer view makes the information your team needs readily available, whether they need to know when a customer returned a product or when their warranty expires.

    Essentially, a 360 customer view empowers your employees to do their job quickly and efficiently, reducing stress and confusion on both ends.

  • Provides key customer insights

    A 360-degree customer view gives you crucial information about what is and isn’t relevant to your customer’s journey. This allows you to hone in on specific areas of interest, avoid campaigns that aren’t relevant, and personalize your communications with each customer.

    The data available in a 360 customer view can also help you determine what your customer is most likely to do next. With access to key information—such as a customer’s transactions, service calls, and preferences—you can identify patterns in their behavior and make informed decisions about what they might need in the future.

    Anticipating your customer’s wants and desires makes them feel seen and understood by your company and ultimately improves their experience.

    Your support team can also leverage that information to tailor their approach and provide a more seamless, positive experience. They won’t be walking into a new situation blind—they’ll be aware of any mishaps or difficulties a customer may have had in the past, so they can avoid repeating similar incidents.

    “You’ll have greater context for all of your customer interactions,” explains Neal Mhaskar, a Zendesk product expert. “If a customer has had challenges with your product and is interacting with support, that’s helpful for all of your customer-facing teams to know.”

    Your support agents can also offer solutions based on the customer’s previous interactions with the company. For example, they can offer new product solutions if they know the customer interacted with a recent marketing campaign or expressed interest in another type of product.

  • Saves customers from repeating themselves over and over again

    Has your customer received the same sales call four times? Or has your support team asked the customer to repeat their information half a dozen times as they look to resolve their issue? If so, your customer is likely bored and frustrated.

    The same is true for your employees. Your support agents don’t want to ask a client a question and then transfer them to a colleague who asks them the same question all over again. They also don’t want to rely on the customer’s sometimes-faulty memory to access information. This leads to an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

    With a 360-degree customer view, your support team doesn’t need to ask repetitive questions and can instead rely on the information in front of them. If a customer is trying to reschedule a canceled flight, for example, the agent should have all the data needed to help the customer without asking them to provide more context.

    “The agents don’t have to ask what their flight number is or where they’re going, and if they can see they’re a platinum-tier customer, they might be able to offer an upgrade and delight them,” Lin explains. “[A 360 customer view] helps them get the context and start personalizing those experiences.”

  • Helps manage conversations across channels

    Your customers expect the same level of service regardless of the channel they’re using. Whether they’re contacting you through a messaging app or interacting with a chatbot, people want to feel understood and heard. One way to make sure that your customers feel seen is to provide a unified and consistent experience across communication channels.

    A 360-degree customer view will help your colleagues manage conversations with customers across multiple channels. It ensures that all the relevant information they need is in one place instead of scattered across separate databases, resulting in a better experience for support agents and customers alike.

    With customer data at their fingertips, team members can collaborate better. Everyone can know who each customer is, where they’re coming from, and what they’ve talked to your company about in the past. This context prevents confusion or miscommunication among employees and saves customers from repeating information every time they interact with someone on a different channel.

  • Boosts brand loyalty

    When your customers feel seen and understood by your company, they’re more likely to remain loyal customers.

    Having all your customer information in one place and in a way that is visible to everyone who interacts with customers will help you tailor your approach to individual buyers more efficiently. You can offer special deals on items they might be particularly interested in or send them an email with solutions to problems that they’ve barely had time to identify, for example.

    Understanding and preempting your customers’ needs will boost customer retention and increase trust. That, in turn, will positively impact your business—after all, it costs more to find new clients than it does to keep the ones you have.

    When you have a 360 view of your customer and have access to their data, you can create more relevant, personalized experiences, leading to higher engagement and customer loyalty.

Create your own 360 customer view

Data management can often feel intimidating. Many people assume it requires spending hours dumping data from one platform to another or manually creating streams of data between legacy platforms.

But if you choose an open and flexible CX platform like Zendesk Sunshine, you can quickly and easily integrate all your customer data for complete context—wherever it lives—to create a 360-degree view of your customer.

You may include basic data (such as contact information and geographical location), sales data (like past purchases or amount of money spent), and support data (including tickets or complaints). Loyalty status, interactions on your website, and social media behaviors can all be integrated, too.

The sky’s the limit, but only you and your teams know what kind of information you need to consistently provide a positive customer experience. Remember: The goal is to paint a complete picture of your customers and make sure everyone on your team has access to this data. Then, you can start providing the level of personalization consumers expect and reap the benefits.

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