Single customer view

This has been an interesting week for those, like me, who believe in the importance of a single, rich view of the customer as the foundation for delivering great customer experiences.  Interventions that match the goals and specific, current context of the customer are not possible without this foundation.

First, Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announced their Open Data Initiative designed to make it easier for products from the three companies to share data.  Hot on the heels of that  was Salesforce announcement of Customer360, an initiative built on its acquisition of Mulesoft, to bring together in real-time data from multiple systems.

I applaud these initiatives but a single customer view, however important, is of little value to customers without mutuality.  In this context mutuality means using every piece of data for the benefit of the customer as well as the company.  All too often, customer data is used just for the company’s benefit.  As has been said many times, we, the customer, are often the product.  Our data is used for one purpose; to sell more to us with little thought to our goals and needs.  The backlash has started, witness the growth of data protection rules.  These are only necessary to control companies that exploit not value customers.  As tools to help us control access to and use of our data grow we will take more control of our data.

When I first discussed this idea in 2008, I talked about the ability to decide who can access personal and transactional data.  Back then, I called it CMR – Customer Managed Relationships.  We will gain the ability to share it only with companies who can show how they use it of our benefit and that has to go beyond simple personalisation.  I want a real benefit, often financial from what is increasingly one of my most valuable assets: I want to deal only with companies that share my values.  Meet my criteria and I will tell you everything, including what I have done and purchased with/from other companies.  Don’t and I will lock you out of everything.

In his opening address at Dreamforce18 Salesforce chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff, said technology is neither inherently good nor bad; it’s what you do with it that matters.  For those of us who truly believe in customer focus and the benefits it brings, that starts with mutuality.  Its a pity this did not feature more in the announcements.