Many of today's companies talk about getting a 360-degree view of their customers and how that will enable them to increase share of wallet and improve customer loyalty. As a consumer and an industry observer, I would argue that these "360-degree views" are aspirational at best. Striving for a holistic view of customers is a noble goal and a necessary one; however, achieving customer intelligence nirvana is easier said than done.
"The vast majority of the people we talk to aspire to get a 360-degree view of the customer, but the reality is they may not have closed the circle," said Julio Hernandez, partner, global customer Centre of Excellence Lead and US Customer Advisory Practice Lead at KPMG . "A 360-degree view of the customer is really knowing who the customer is, what they're doing and why they're doing it. It's also bringing in the right information sources, and the information sources are continuously evolving."
Companies should also understand how valuable their customers are and where they are on their journeys. However, truly understanding customers and marketing to them appropriately is still difficult despite all the technology and data that's available now.
Part of the problem is what Hernandez calls "The New Year's Day" problem, which is saying one thing and doing another.
"It goes back to the 360-degree view and having multiple sources of data, combining them, and combining [different] types of analysis to get a better picture of what the customer wants and is doing," said Hernandez. "You have to start with what you're trying to achieve with customer insights. That drives how you harness the analytics and how you look at the data. If you expect to just look at all your data and [get] all the insights in the world, you're going to come up short."
Businesses purchase a lot of third-party data to better understand their customers' economic means, what they're buying and where they're buying it to understand their share of wallet. If they have a loyalty program, they have insight into what their share of wallet looks like.
"You have to make some inferences about what's your share in the marketplace is in different categories," said Hernandez. "You can also triangulate and come up to a number about what I'm actually selling to that person versus the inferred wallet [because] you won't know for sure exactly what their wallet is."
Businesses should also consider the attributes of their best customers and then identify customers who share the same attributes but spend less. That way, the company can intervene with some sort of marketing campaign that encourages the latter group to spend more.
Businesses with loyalty programs get varied results depending on the benefits their programs provide and the degree to which companies leverage that information.
"Loyalty cards are interesting because they're trying to [get] you to clearly state who you are when you're using the card and then they can track your basket and your purchases," said Hernandez. "But you have to step back and ask how do you as an organization define loyalty? Is it someone who stays with you on an ongoing basis? If so, that's great, but if you're a utility and I continue to business with [you], that doesn't necessarily means that I'm loyal. It means I'm lazy or I don't have substitutes."
Money isn't everything. If two customers spend the same amount of money, but one is a brand advocate on social media, the latter is considered more valuable now.
"When you think about loyalty, it's also about what are they're doing with their loyalty," said Hernandez. "Are they engaging with your services? Are they proponents of it? Those are things that help you determine what kind of loyalty you have."