Unlocking the Full Potential of a Customer 360: A Comprehensive Guide


In today’s fast-paced digital economy, understanding your customer has never been more critical. The concept of a customer 360 view has emerged as a revolutionary approach to gaining a comprehensive understanding of consumers by integrating data from different touchpoints to offer a holistic view. 

A customer 360 view is about taking an overarching approach to data management. Instead of looking at each dataset in a vacuum, you must combine insights from each source to create a complete picture of who your customers are, what they want, and what value they are looking for from your brand. 

But how does such a comprehensive view fit into your overall customer data strategy? Delve into the effects and nuances of the customer 360 methodology in this guide.

In this article, we will cover:

Understanding a Customer 360

A customer 360 approach refers to the holistic approach of collecting, integrating, and analyzing customer data from multiple sources to create a single, complete view — essentially a portrait-like profile of a customer that encompasses every interaction, transaction, and engagement they have with your brand. 

In creating a customer 360 view, you effectively unify information from various sources and can better understand customer behaviors, preferences, and needs. 

You’ll need a good customer master data management strategy to build a 360 customer view. If your data is inaccurate, incomplete, or disorganized, your view will be skewed or otherwise misleading.

Step one to embracing a customer 360 view is to gather, optimize, and sift through your data. Specifically, you’ll need to:

Get Granular

granular data for a customer data strategyWhen building a 360 customer view, many people get consumed with big-picture metrics like conversion rates, churn, and sales. While all of these are critical components of the customer journey, they don’t tell the whole story. Often, big-picture metrics tell you what happened but can’t tell you why.

Therefore, you’ll need to get granular. Identify every touchpoint and look beyond surface-level analytics. Some of the interactions you’ll need to identify and analyze include:

  • Time on site
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Site visits
  • Likes
  • Views
  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Email open rate
  • Newsletter or email sign-ups

This is not an exhaustive list. The specific data points you’ll need to include in your 360 customer view will vary depending on the nature and complexity of your business model.

For instance, suppose that you operate in the business-to-business (B2B) space. In that case, your granular data points may include things like phone calls, text messages, and Zoom meetings. All these interactions matter because they shape the customer’s view of your brand.

Identify Key Engagement Points

After digging into granular data, it’s time to identify and focus on key engagement points across the customer journey. Don’t look at them as independent exchanges but rather as parts of a complete journey.

These are moments when customers are most receptive to communication or making critical decisions. By recognizing these points, your business can tailor interactions to enhance customer experiences and drive engagement.

Remember that granular data you mapped out in the initial step? You’ll be able to use it to trace a customer’s path between major milestones. For instance, let’s say that a customer’s first major engagement point involved seeing one of your best ads on social media. Then, they followed your page.

Over the next few weeks, they interacted with your brand’s posts, organic video content, and social media ads. Finally, they went to your website and made a purchase. You can examine some of those “less important” interactions and see which ones had the biggest impact on the conversion.

When you apply this concept at scale, you’ll be able to identify which nurturing efforts are delivering the biggest return on investment (ROI). Conversely, you can pinpoint wasteful spending and improve the overall efficiency of your marketing efforts.

Build Personas

personas for customer 360 view

Mapping the customer journey is only the beginning. Once you’ve obtained a 360 customer view, you must build personas. These personas help your business understand the varying needs and behaviors of your customer segments, allowing for more targeted marketing strategies and product offerings.

You need to create enough personas so that you can deliver personalized content to each group. However, try to avoid getting too niche. Doing so can make it hard to market at scale. Balance is key.

When creating personas, you’ll need to divide your audience segments based on demographic and behavioral factors. You can consider variables such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Marital status
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Purchasing history
  • Customer status (new or recurring)
  • Needs and viewpoints

Some customers may prioritize value and gravitate toward your less expensive offerings. Conversely, younger, more socially conscious customers might be more intrigued by your brand’s sustainability efforts.

The first step is identifying these nuances through segmentation and persona building. Then, you can create tailored marketing content for each group.

Personalization is more important than ever, as the majority of today’s consumers expect it. According to Statista, 81% of Gen Z prefers personalized ads. Roughly 57% of millennials and 52% of Gen X feel the same way. Just 43% of baby boomers care about personalized ads.

Focus on Transactions

Now, you are ready to focus on transactions. Analyzing transactional data provides insights into purchasing behaviors, preferences, and patterns, enabling your business to optimize sales strategies and improve product offerings. Gathering transactional data is easier than ever, thanks to the digitization of customer experiences.

Even if customers make a purchase in the store, a large chunk of their journey takes place on digital channels. As such, you’ll be able to track all of the precursors that led them to make that in-person purchase. If your brand has a rewards program, you’ll be able to gather data on those in-person transactions, too.

Transactional data closes the customer 360 feedback loop. It is the culmination of those granular touchpoints, key engagements, and personalized marketing content. When a customer conducts a transaction with your brand, you can look back on their journey and use attribution models to determine which touchpoints had the biggest effect on their decision.

What Is a Customer?

shopping dataAt the heart of the customer 360 approach is a fundamental question: what defines a customer? At the simplest level, a customer is someone who has had a financial transaction with your brand.

However, a customer 360 view allows you to look beyond digital checkouts or credit card swipes. With a customer 360 view, you can understand the multifaceted nature of consumers, including their values, preferences, and feedback. It offers a comprehensive perspective that’s vital for building meaningful relationships. 

The Value of a Customer 360 View

Creating a customer 360 view can unlock the power of consumer data and help you better understand what your customers want and who they are. Adopting this approach to data analytics will also open the door for:

Predictive Capabilities

Leveraging customer 360 data allows your business to predict customer behaviors and preferences. In turn, it enables you to provide proactive engagement and personalized experiences that meet customers’ needs even before they articulate them.

Consider, for example, that you are launching a new product. In this case, you can leverage historical customer 360 insights to build a marketing strategy and connect with consumers on their preferred mediums.

Improving Product Match

With a complete view of the customer, your business can enhance product recommendations. This ensures that customers are matched with the products or services that best meet their needs.

According to some estimates, product recommendations account for about one-third of an e-commerce store’s revenue. If you need to give your revenue a boost, it’s time to offer better product recommendations.

Real-World Applications

You don’t have to look very hard to find real-world use cases for a customer 360 approach. Amazon is a prime example. The digital shopping behemoth delivers accurate, personalized product recommendations that increase average order values and incentivize customers to buy more.

Netflix is another great example. The platform delivers show and movie recommendations based on past viewing history. The more you consume, the better the recommendations.

Essential Data Fields in a Customer 360

data fields for customer data strategySo what data do you actually need to build a customer 360 view? At a minimum, you’ll need the following data fields:

  • Demographic Data: Age, gender, location, marital status, etc. 
  • Behavioral Data: Preferred social media platforms, favorite type of content 
  • Preference Data: Product color preferences, shopping preferences 
  • Product: Favorite products, purchasing frequency, average order quantity 
  • Affiliations: Sports teams, college attendance, group memberships, career path
  • Relationships Between Customers: Are the customers affiliated or related?

Each of these data fields provides a piece of the customer 360 puzzle. Learning a customer’s age, gender, and marital status will help you classify them and market to them more effectively. However, you’ll also need to study their behavior, preferences, and affiliations to deliver truly personalized content.

Common Challenges

If a customer 360 view is so great, why isn’t everyone using this concept? In fact, there are lots of potential stumbling blocks, including:

Dirty Data

Inaccurate, incomplete, or irrelevant data can significantly hinder the effectiveness of customer 360 initiatives. Obtaining clean, high-quality data must be your top priority. Otherwise, you’ll get misleading results or be forced to fill in the blanks in customer profiles using generalizations and guesswork.

Poor Accuracy

Ensuring the accuracy of customer data is crucial. Inaccuracies can lead to misguided strategies and customer dissatisfaction.

For instance, inaccurate product recommendations might irritate a customer, especially if you are sending these suggestions via email. If the problem persists, they might unsubscribe altogether.

Common Names

Distinguishing between customers with common names or identifiers requires sophisticated data management strategies to ensure accurate profiles. For example, if a bank is transferring money to someone, the institution must know that it is the right person.

In some instances, the negative impacts of being wrong are minimal. In others, you’ll have zero margin for error. For example, if someone fills out a credit application and the results are sent to someone with the same name, the repercussions could be severe. Conversely, if someone tests drives a car and you misspell their email address when logging the person’s data in your CRM, the repercussions are negligible.

Privacy Concerns

Building a customer 360 view requires a lot of intimate consumer data. However, you must be careful in how you go about collecting that data. You can easily cross the line from helpful to creepy.

For example, let’s say that one household is buying a lot of baby stuff because one of the household members is seven months pregnant. Delivering personalized ads that feature baby products would feel invasive, as the baby hasn’t even been born yet.

This level of data collection can raise privacy concerns. It also has the potential to make consumers view your brand in a negative light.

Transaction Security

When gathering, storing, and sending customer data, you must do your part to protect it. As a data handler, you are responsible for maintaining data security. Failing to do so could lead to fines, customer distrust, and severe reputational damage.

Benefits of Obtaining a 360-Degree Customer View

Investing in an optimized customer data management strategy and robust analytics technology will allow you to build a 360-degree customer view. You can use this view to unlock benefits such as:

benefitsIncreased Revenue

By offering personalized experiences and product matches, your business can drive sales and increase revenue. You’ll be able to accommodate the dynamic needs of your customers, keep them happy, and nurture feelings of loyalty toward your brand.

Reduced Attrition

The 360 customer view can also assist with reducing attrition. You can understand and anticipate customer needs, decreasing feelings of frustration and making brand interactions as frictionless as possible.

Decreased Operational Costs

The 360 customer view reveals which marketing efforts are delivering a strong ROI and which investments are falling short. Once you pinpoint sources of waste, you can cut spending in these areas and decrease your operational costs.

Better Personalization

The ultimate goal of the customer 360 methodology is to enable hyper-personalized customer experiences to enhance satisfaction and loyalty. You want to meet customers on their terms and present them with timely, relevant, and engaging content. When you can achieve that at scale, everyone wins.

Building Your Customer 360 View

Are you ready to build your customer 360 view? Here’s how to get started. 

Define Your Customer and Start Profiling

Begin by defining what a customer means to your business. Then, start building detailed profiles based on data.

If you are in the consumer retail space, a customer is someone who makes a purchase on your website. If you are in a service industry like HVAC, a customer is an individual who schedules maintenance, repairs, or equipment replacements with your business.

It’s now time to start creating customer profiles. When building profiles, outline each customer persona’s preferred communication channel, buying habits, and other variables that impact their interactions with your brand.

Use Your Data

When building these profiles, remember that you need both big-picture and granular data. Map out all interactions and data points first, and look at every touchpoint before shifting your focus to the most impactful ones. This approach reveals where the customer journey begins, what stages it has, and which interactions drive conversions.

Be a Good Data Steward

Adopt practices that ensure the ethical use of customer data, prioritizing privacy and security. Brush up on state and federal data privacy laws, too. And be particularly cautious when handling sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and any other data that can be misused or abused.

Being a good data steward isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also critical for business continuity. Falling short on data stewardship can lead to fines, a loss of customer trust, and permanent reputational damage.

The Importance of Data Quality Assurance

clean up dataThe importance of data quality assurance in customer data strategy cannot be overstated. Start by creating a single view of your customers. Use a consolidated data management system for storing, organizing, tracking, and monitoring the data you collect.

Regularly auditing and cleaning your data is essential for maintaining the accuracy and effectiveness of your customer 360 view. You should:

  • Get rid of old records
  • Delete invalid data
  • Replace invalid data with up-to-date information
  • Address duplicates or discrepancies

Data quality assurance is an ongoing process that’s vital to the efficacy of your customer 360 strategy. Inaccurate data can undermine the reliability of your customer profiles and lead to misguided spending. Conversely, clean, accurate data is a valuable asset to your organization’s long-term growth.

As part of these efforts, ensure that you develop and adhere to a customer master data management strategy. This overarching plan will provide clear guidance on what data you collect, what you do with it, and how you maintain it. When possible, prioritize first and second-party data, as they are often of better quality.

Finally, be transparent with your customers. Give them the chance to opt in or out of data collection processes, especially the use of cookies. Being upfront about your data collection strategy will help build trust between consumers and your brand.

Elevate Your Customer Data Strategy With UDig

Building a customer 360 view is a valuable data management strategy for organizations in virtually every vertical. However, select industries will reap the most significant benefits. These industries include:

Regardless of what industry you operate in, it’s important to choose the right data partner to help you build your customer 360 view. Enter UDig.

At UDig, we help organizations build a customer 360 perspective through the strategic use, analysis, and application of data. By embracing these principles and leveraging our expertise, your business can enhance customer experiences, drive revenue, and stay competitive in the digital age.

To discuss how UDig can support your organization’s data journey, reach out to us below.



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About The Author

Ethan Johnson is a Principal Consultant on the Data & Analytics team.