Having a 360° customer view is a well established term in CRM and Master Data Management. It is typically defined as “providing everyone in the organization with a consistent view of the customer.”
Then some organizations don’t use the term customer but other words like:
- Citizen is the common term in public sector organizations when dealing with private persons
- Patient is used in healthcare and the customer/citizen balance is different between countries around the world
- Member is used in membership organizations like fundraising and those organizing employers and employees
The concept of a 360° customer view is in my eyes easily swapped with 360° citizen / patient/ member view.
Also related to the position in the pipeline we have words as:
- Prospect being an entity with whom we have a 1-1 dialogue about becoming a customer
- Lead being an entity we want to engage in such a dialogue
I think embracing prospects and leads is a must for a 360° customer view. Having the same real world object acting as a customer and a prospect/lead at the same time doesn’t make sense.
Hierarchy is of course important here, as the customer and the prospect or lead may belong to the same hierarchy but at a different level or only seen at a higher level. This is true for:
- Households in B2C operations
- Company family trees in B2B operations
- Multiple employee engagements in B2B operations
- Small business owners in B2B and B2C coexisting environments
Organizations also have suppliers. In a B2B organization the intersection of business partners being customers / prospects / leads and also suppliers may be surprisingly large. Typically the intersection is not that large seen at branch level but higher if we take a look at the ultimate global mother level.
From my point of view a 360° customer view should be made on consolidated customer and supplier hierarchies in B2B. Even in B2C a private customer may be a business owner or key employee at a supplier.
Employees are another master data entity that may have an intersection with customers and suppliers. Having an employee being a (or spouse of a) business owner at a small business supplier is a classic cause of trouble. I have seen situations where a 360° customer view could include employee entities.
Other Business Partner entities exists depending on industry and specific business operations where a 360° customer view would benefit from catching up on other real world party entities.
I think Data Matching and/or upstream prevention by error tolerant search has a busy near future.
Excellent post Henrik,
This is one of the most comprehensive explanations I have read for what a 360° view should contain.
Too many definitions and attempted implementations fall short (i.e. 270° or less) because they don’t look at (as you described very well) all of the different ways that the same real-world entity can be represented.
The circle is surely good stuff for analogies like the 270° view.
Sometimes I also use the analogy about squaring the circle as 360° actually is too finite. In real life we have to make an approximative construction similar to when we square the circle – sometimes 22/7 instead of Pi with 50 decimals is OK and anyway the real fix is proved impossible.
I guess we will come across the subject of a single indisputable version of the truth during next week.