The Basic, No-Nonsense, Undisputed Truth About the Customer

Whether driven by lack of product differentiation, insufficient revenue growth, competitive pressures, or simply the need to improve the prospect/customer experience, companies are seeking to better understand their customers in order to more effectively acquire, retain and profitably monetize their business.

A “360 degree view of the customer” has become a common phrase used by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution providers. Indeed, these solutions can provide much of the account information needed to understand customer attributes and track and manage communication.

Yet for transactional data, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions that form the operational system of record of the business provide a missing link to complement the view; customer interactions are also captured in contact center systems; and for behavioral input, marketing automation deployments also contain valuable knowledge of the customer.

The bottom line here: With so many data repositories representing valid customer data, how can companies effectively establish a “single version of the truth” regarding their prospect or customer?

Some Background

According to current Aberdeen research being conducted for “Chance Favors the Prepared Mind — Understanding the Science of Sales Intelligenceu201d (publishing July, 2011), more than half of all Best-in-Class sales organizations (those with the best customer retention rates and annualized growth in corporate revenue and team attainment of sales quota) actively analyze or segment their customer base in order to identify up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

Forty-three percent of Industry Average and only 18 percent of Laggards, however, do so.

Moreover, analyzing the performance of all companies that have adopted this practice in comparison with those that do not, the up-selling organizations see their sales reps spending 17 percent less time per day searching for prospect customer data, and boast a 15 percent higher customer retention rate and 11 percent more accurate sales forecasts.

From the end user’s perspective, the key benefits of providing a complete view of the customer include the opportunity to increase share of customer wallets, and share of market, resulting in:

  • Increased new customer acquisition
  • Expanded ability to up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Reduced operational (internal) inefficiencies in servicing or selling to the customer

The Real Deal

A true 360 degree view of the customer is a win-win situation for all parties involved: Buyers benefit from better service and efficiency, and sellers derive improved loyalty and, inevitably, more repeat business from established customers.

Aberdeen’s upcoming benchmark research report, scheduled for publishing in September 2011, will explore how Best-in-Class companies take a holistic approach to providing a complete, accurate and integrated view to improve customer satisfaction and retention without losing sight of customer profitability. As a result, companies with more accurate and timely information about their prospect or customer can more efficiently respond to communications, ensure customer satisfaction with better service, and drive toward a larger lifetime value of each account, customer or client.

Aberdeen’s hypothesis is that to achieve a high degree of flexibility and customer responsiveness, companies must blend a combination of strategic actions and new technologies to:

  • Integrate multiple sources of customer/prospect data into a single view
  • Define processes for identifying “at risk” customers
  • Notify sales/support managers in advance of potential problems in delivering service or product
  • Enable sales/support managers to be able to drill down to transactions that form a fiscal and operational audit trail from summary view of the customer.

Peter Ostrow is research director for sales effectiveness at the Aberdeen Group. To participate in this research and receive a free complimentary copy of the resulting report upon publishing, take the 15-minute survey by clicking here.

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