The need for a B2B single customer view (SCV)
The single customer view (SCV) is a process that has the ability to transform customer data, from many sources, into a structured, clean database, with a single, enhanced record for each individual customer. The process helps ensure that marketing spend less time manipulating and cleansing data and more time focusing on analytics, insight and campaigns.
For B2C organisations, this means more efficiently and effectively reaching out to potential customers, building a relationship with that person (or household) and encouraging them to buy from you. B2B, as we know, isn’t quite so straightforward. Lead nurturing, growing your service offering and minimising churn is key. But how different is it and can an SCV help?
For a B2B SCV, the marketing strategies can be very different, so the data has to support a different way of working. The sales process is typically far more complex, involving multiple touchpoints as part of a sale. With B2C you have many short conversations with individual customers. For B2B, there is a long-term strategy for nurturing, servicing and developing a client, with a single decision often made by a team of people at the client end.
This, though, presents the first question. With so many people involved, who do you even consider to be the ‘customer’?
The customer is variable depending on what you’re selling and who you are selling to. If you’re selling printer paper to a company with several offices, the office in question is your customer. If you’re selling network infrastructure, then the company or group would be your customer, as your service covers multiple businesses at multiple locations.
Identifying your customer is only the first hurdle, though. A single person can work for several companies within a larger group. This could mean they have multiple addresses, emails, contact numbers and more. And this highlights just one reason why a B2B SCV is so important.
Take a group manager who works for more than one company or entity. If they are spending £1000 a month for one company and £1000 a month for another, as a human you would say their value to your company is £2000. However, when you are processing hundreds of millions of records of data, you cannot make this link arbitrarily. In data terms, the same person will exist as multiple contacts for multiple businesses. That is not a single customer view.
If you don’t maintain your single source of the truth (one record for each customer), that is going to wreak havoc with your measurements. All your metrics will be wrong, and your data will be disparate and split. With fragmented data, so too is the conversation, and the client relationship.
The simplest way to think of a B2B SCV is to consider an SME with a single salesperson. In their head, or on a spreadsheet, they'll know every customer by name and who is responsible for what. They'll know the buying process, they'll know purchasing, and they'll know legal. Nevertheless, there will come a time when a company grows, more salespeople join and maintaining this spreadsheet will become too complex.
At some point, there will be too many gaps, or too much bad data, for an intelligent decision to be made. Moreover, these gaps in your intelligence can lead to costly inefficiencies that can affect everything from services, sales, logistics and more. It can also lead to mismanagement of your accounts, which can have serious repercussions.
With a SCV providing your single source of truth, you can underpin your marketing performance with accurate measurements. Knowing that one marketing manager works for two companies will explain why they only replied once to a promotional email sent to both companies.
Having a clear, defined hierarchy of company sites, HQ, multiple brands and rolling employees up to the right locations – even across different countries, you can start to cross-sell and nurture customer relationships in a far more effective way.
Having this measurability and visibility from an SCV provides the foundation for decision, support, analytics, segmentation, and customer communication and, importantly, how to attribute the correct value to your client relationships. However, this intelligence needs to be accompanied by wisdom.
Take, for example, a software contract with a chain of hotels. Your database will likely have a record of the chain as a client, and some individual hotels. They will have their own marketing teams, their own infrastructure and their own costs, so exist as separate records.
But if you were to mismanage your relationship with the chain and they cancel their contract, it will likely take the individual hotels with it. The intelligence will tell you that you have multiple customers, but wisdom says they must be treated as one.
In the building of a SCV, a B2B organisation will need to think about how they structure their data and their processes, and how these processes and procedures align with their business objectives. This can then feed your reports and analytics, allowing you to make informed action on what your data tells you.
With unified, enhanced data in an SCV fuelling your decision making, that is your route to better conversations and more accurate metrics with the clients and customers you can identify as having the highest propensity to begin (and maintain) a relationship with you.