Customer service is becoming more important than ever for consumers and companies alike. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, over 60 percent of shoppers now have higher customer service expectations than they did before the pandemic. And 73 percent of business leaders say there's a direct link between business performance and customer service.
Trends like this aren’t going away. To drive growth, companies need to prioritize (and invest in) customer support. It’s a profit-generating force in its own right.
Providing your customers with a top-notch service experience hinges on having a complete view of them based on accurate data. A 360-degree customer view will help you 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 view refers to the concept of consolidating data from various customer touchpoints and systems in one place. This view helps you and your team gain a complete, accurate picture of your customer and what they need from your company.
The customer data is typically stored in a CRM. With all the information in a single place, support teams can create 360 views and provide the best possible customer experience. A support agent won't have to check multiple platforms to see a customer’s sales history, whether they follow your brand on social media, or if they’ve ever contacted the support team. The agent can then tailor their interactions accordingly.
“The goal is to create an engaging and personalized experience for your customers,” says Amy Lin, a product expert at Zendesk.
A 360 view is instrumental in B2B customer support, as 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.
We’ll put it this way: The more data you’re dealing with, the more likely your business can benefit from a 360 customer view.
Why is a 360-degree customer view important? 5 benefits
A 360-degree view gives your team visibility into a 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 agents have a plethora of information that enables them to personalize the service experience.
1. Ensures customer information is accessible
To do their jobs effectively, your support agents need access to real-time 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 set of databases. A 360 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.
2. Signals future customer behavior
The data available in a 360 view can also help determine what a customer is most likely to do next. With access to key information—such as a customer’s transactions, support queries, and preferences—you can identify patterns in their behavior. This can lead to more informed decisions about what they might need in the future and to more upselling or cross-selling opportunities.
Anticipating wants and desires can improve customer retention. With 360 views, your support team can 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 that can lead to churn.
3. Enables personalization
When you can clearly see each customer’s journey, you can create more relevant, personalized experiences, leading to higher engagement and customer loyalty.
Having all your customer information in one place and in a way that is visible to everyone will help you tailor your approach to individual buyers more efficiently. You can offer special deals on items they might be interested in or send them an email with solutions to problems they've barely had time to identify, for example.
Your support agents can also suggest solutions based on the customer’s previous interactions. For instance, they can recommend new products if they know the customer engaged with a recent marketing campaign or expressed interest in another type of product.
When your customers feel seen and understood by your company, they’re more likely to stick around.
4. Saves customers from repeating themselves
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.
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. For instance, if a customer is trying to reschedule a canceled flight, 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.”
5. 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 your customers feel seen is to provide omnichannel support: a unified and consistent customer service experience across communication channels.
A 360-degree customer view will help your team manage conversations with customers across multiple channels. It ensures all the relevant information they need is in a centralized 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 your customers, 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.
How to create a 360-degree view of your customers
Now that you know how 360-degree views can benefit your organization, it's time to create your own. Build a holistic picture of your customers by taking the following steps.
Establish a single source of truth
Before you start collecting data, it's smart to figure out where you're going to put it so you can make sense of it all. Without the proper infrastructure, important information may fall through the cracks or get trapped in silos.
Set up a single customer data platform that makes it easy for everyone in your company to collect, store, and share customer information. It’s common to capture and house this type of information in a customer relationship management (CRM) or customer service platform like Zendesk.
Wherever you choose to store your data, make sure it’s in a place where teams across the organization can access the information and can add details to customer profiles as needed.
Identify customer data relevant to your goals
Figure out what types of customer information will help you create engaging experiences, or you’ll waste a lot of time sorting through irrelevant details. You may have lots of data, but only you and your teams know what you need to consistently provide a positive customer experience.
For example, if you’re a retail brand, you’ll want to track things like purchase history and product preferences. If you’re a SaaS company with an app that runs on an annual subscription basis, you’ll need to collect details like the date each user first started using your app and when their subscription expires.
If you're not sure where to start, initiate the process by gathering:
- General profile data like names and email addresses
- Phone numbers, addresses, and other contact information
- Demographic data like age, gender, and education
- Geographic identifiers, which can be as broad as country and state or as hyper-specific as zip code
- Transaction history, including past purchases made through all channels and the amount of money spent
- Website and social media interactions
- Direct communication and interaction history like help desk tickets, support, and post-sale emails
Enrich your existing customer data
Even if you already have a collection of customer data, there’s a reasonable chance some of it is stale, irrelevant, or incomplete. For instance, your lead forms may not collect addresses. An excellent way to supplement your data is to perform additional customer research. You can do this through:
- Social listening: Understand how customers engage with your company and what they’re saying about your organization by monitoring social channels for brand mentions, reviews, and opinions.
- Third-party data: If you analyze all your data and still find gaps, you can add third-party data to fill those holes. This information is compiled from multiple data sources and can include market research reports, government statistics, and other non-competitive sources of customer intelligence. While it won’t tell you how people use your product or service, it can provide information about their general lifestyle and preferences.
- Customer feedback: One of the best ways to get new information is to communicate with your customers directly. By asking your buyers what they think of your brand and how you can improve, you’ll better understand their needs and challenges. Use customer surveys, polls, and phone or video conversations to source information.
Dig deep and wide to learn everything you can about your audience. The more you know, the more you can refine the customer service experience.
Use what you learn to create an exceptional customer experience
Remember, a 360-degree customer view is one that’s continually developed. Keep gathering new information about your buyers, test and measure your results regularly, and iterate frequently to ensure you’re providing a stellar support experience that will improve customer satisfaction.