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This blog series discusses the concept of "Customer 360" and the benefits customers can get out of it. It lists common implementation challenges and gives some ideas on how to solve those. The main part highlights the Customer 360 views and capabilities within SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C). The series concludes with a summary of the key points discussed.

Here are the blogs of this series:

  1. Customer 360 - Overview (THIS BLOG)

  2. Customer 360 - Customer Details (Sales & Service)

  3. Customer 360 - Customer Insights (Sales)

  4. Customer 360 - Customer Hub (Service)

  5. Customer 360 - Summary

What is Customer 360 and why is it important?

The term "Customer 360" has been around for quite a while and gained significant importance over the last couple of years. The problem with this term is that it is quite fuzzy and does not have a unique definition. Simply put Customer 360 is the concept of having a unified view of all your customer data across all touchpoints. More precisely, Customer 360 encompasses a holistic 360 degree view of your customers including all interactions across various channels - be it past product purchases, open customer service tickets or even any website inquiry on your Commerce website. Moreover all this information should be handy within one single view so that the user does not need to access multiple systems or tools to compile the data he needs.

But why is it important at all? Well, there are some obvious benefits which come to mind. In an upsell scenario for example it would be good to know that the customer has recently raised a complaint for one of his existing products or to get insights into his purchase history to tailor the upsell opportunity to his specific needs. On service side it is crucial to have all customer background information and recent interactions handy to ensure a consistent, targeted and fast ticket resolution. In marketing a campaign can be tailored very individually with the knowledge of sales and service insights and a sales rep could easily follow up on a previously sent marketing email if he had an option to see that it has been executed for his customer. To summarize Customer 360 is an enabler for a more personalized customer experience and a tool for agents to make better informed decisions along the customer engagement process.

Challenges implementing Customer 360

Now that we understand the concept and benefits of Customer 360, it is important to highlight some key challenges many companies face when it comes to implementing it:

Missing Data

Customer 360 relies on good data quality. If phone calls are not logged in the system a future agent will not have any insights into the full interaction history. The widespread use of Excel spreadsheets to capture business transactions also adds to this problem. Inconsistent and outdated master data also play a crucial role here. Phone numbers and addresses change, names can be misspelled.

In order to mitigate this issue it is crucial that customers maintain every single interaction with a customer within the system and digitize any other existing data storages like Excel or pen and paper. When it comes to master data attributes like a missing phone number these data gaps should be consequently closed by enriching the customer record with new data once they become available (e.g. existing customer calling with new phone number).

Duplicate Data

The challenge of duplicate master data is a very widespread one amongst almost all companies. If a customer cannot be uniquely identified based on his phone number for example, an agent often simply creates a new master data record while on the phone with the customer in order to proceed with the process. This however results in a break of the customer history as all new interactions like the current phone call will be logged against the new record.

This issue can be addressed by implementing a strict governance process for master data creation. System features built into the master data creation process like the duplicate check (see here) can assist the agents in identifying already existing similar master data records. Existing customer records can be cleansed via customer merge functionalities (see here). In order to enforce the whole master data governance process customers can also think about adding an MDM solution (like SAP MDG) integrated with C4C (Details of this integrated process are described here).

Fragmented Data

In almost all cases customer-related data does not reside in one single system but is rather distributed across multiple systems in the customer landscape. Webshop transactions reside in Commerce, campaigns are executed in Marketing and fulfilment-related transactions like invoices or deliveries are typically managed in ERP. This makes the implementation of Customer 360 tricky as data needs to be collected from multiple sources.

The key to combining fragmented data spread across various systems is to integrate them into a holistic view. Integration can happen either on data or UI level. Data replication is based on pre-packaged integration flows provided by SAP via the API Business Hub, while UI integration is typically achieved via mashups (see here).

The above mentioned challenges and data cleansing techniques would need an own article in order to cover all details so they should only be scratched at the surface here. What is important though is that any data cleansing activities need to be tackled upfront so that Customer 360 can provide the actual business value it promises. After all, a Customer 360 view can only be as good as the data quality behind it. That is why any company which seriously wants to implement Customer 360 should carefully review above challenges upfront and take the necessary actions to improve data quality as a prerequisite step.

In the following blog we want to have a closer look at the Customer 360 views and capabilities within SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C) - starting with the Customer Details screen.