Single view of the customer

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Most companies know what a single view of the customer is and its 
value in a multichannel retail operation. When running a multichannel 
retail operation, the most valuable resource is having a single view 
of leads, prospects and customers across different channels. 
Companies also know - usually from painful first-hand experience - 
what the cost of not having this view is.
But how can companies go about achieving this single view? 
Integration of many business systems is usually expensive and 
difficult to achieve. And even after a significant investment in 
pulling disparate systems together, ROI can still be tricky to 
capture due to latency of centralized information.
To understand if your multichannel business is missing out on key 
business opportunities, delivered via a centralized view of all 
customer touch points and business operations, ask yourself the 
following questions:
Are you capturing data from customers who shop at your physical 
stores? If you are, are you following up by integrating it with your 
Web site data? The lack of such holistic information can lead to 
poor, or at best, mediocre customer service for highvalue customers 
who shop across channels. With this database in place, an in-store 
clerk can recommend new, complementary items based on previous 
purchases made online. Ditto for the online customer. Most retail Web 
sites attempt to cross-sell to customers with no visibility into 
previous purchases rather than the increased likelihood of conversion 
that comes from intelligent, past purchase based upsell recommendations.
Does your customer have to call an 800 line and speak to a rep to 
find out where her shipment is? Let's leave aside the fact that the 
customer is waiting longer than expected for delivery without advance 
notice from the retailer, a near unpardonable sin in e-commerce. If 
the customer cannot look up the status of his or her purchase online, 
you have seriously degraded the shopping experience and he or she is 
unlikely to visit your site again.
Are your e-mail campaigns targeted to customers' profiles? If not, 
you are wasting your time. Even if your customer has opted in to your 
communications, he or she will quickly discard your e-mail the first 
time he or she sees they are just generic promotions.
Are you able to manage your inventory for both your Web site and 
physical stores in one place? If not, you could find yourself out of 
stock when promoting a special online or at your store. This doesn't 
touch upon a customer interaction directly but still can have a 
serious impact. It could lead to missed sales and worse, poor 
customer experience.


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