So what’s it all about with a 360-degree customer view? Is this just another cliché, a fuss about nothing? And why should the popular joke about the master’s triangle in the 360 view context be taken quite seriously? Read on!

Salesforce Service Cloud. Can a customer service department cope without this tool? Of course! But if you’ve read How to improve Customer Service work thanks to Salesforce Service Cloud article, you already know that it’s worth giving such a gift to employees, and customers, because it truly magically brings order to daily operations. I’ll describe what this is all about in upcoming articles. A foreman on a construction site starts with the foundations, and I’ll start with a 360-degree view of the customer – the foundation on which all processes in Salesforce are based.

 

What stands out about Salesforce’s 360 view?

According to Gartner, the Salesforce Platform offers the most complimentary 360 view – compared to other systems and technologies of its kind. Gartner specifically highlights the UI and customer service areas considering them to be the best-taken care of.

 

Figure 1: Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

Figure_1_Magic_Quadrant_for_the_CRM_Customer_Engagement_Center

Source: Gartner (June 2021)

When we look at the Salesforce Platform as an eco-, or rather a tech- system, it’s easier to understand why it’s placed so high in the rankings. Salesforce is the only technology with such an extensive products portfolio (or, to be technically precise, services) to support the customer lifecycle. Salesforce platform applications span the full customer lifecycle from marketing to sales, and customer service departments to self-service on the Community platform, constantly putting the customer at the very core. We build all processes around the customer and, regardless of the customer lifecycle stage, we all use the same, single database; we see and build the same customer record. This makes our operations consistent, effective, and efficient.
The graphic below illustrates this well.

craftware business

Source: Own work

 

360 view – but what does that mean specifically?

Ready applications – supporting marketing, sales, service, e-commerce, or addressed to specific industries – are a kind of windows through which the user can see customer data.. Although users look from different perspectives, they see the same information presented most conveniently. It is similar to its creation – no matter in which window they type the information, it is visible in all of them.

The Lego analogy can be helpful here – a complete customer view in the system is like a building made of blocks. Each employee or department that interacts with the customer adds a certain element. Marketing adds information about the customer’s subscription to the newsletter, and sales brings in more sales opportunities. Maybe the customer adds something by entering the e-commerce platform and buying something from the company’s offer. And, after some time, they contact the company through the customer portal. From each of these contexts (sources), information about the customer flows, which means the next elements of the construction.

And then what? The employee who contacts the customer sees the whole building and its every element. This is the essence of the 360-degree view – no matter where the customer information comes from or how we use it later – it is at hand.

Therefore, the 360-degree-view of the customer is not a feature assigned only to Service Cloud, one that distinguishes it from other applications on the Salesforce Platform. We encounter it in every application available on the platform.

 

Creation and… consumption

Our Lego-built structure, meaning our Salesforce Platform-based system, is like a living organism. It is constantly growing. The rate of this growth depends on various factors: the instance’s size, the number of windows in the build, the number of users, processes, or functionalities. Every activity on the employee or customer side is another block in the building, no matter if it’s employee-customer contact or contact through functionality, handled automatically. A face-to-face meeting, a phone call made, an email read, a website visit, an event registration, a chatbot conversation – any customer interaction with a company leaves a trace.

On the other hand, the 360-degree view of the customer continually built and supplemented with new elements is at the same time constantly… consumed. It’s like a wheel that keeps spinning, and sales and marketing activities (or, to be more precise, customer journey subsequent stages) are the best example here. The customer, entering our website, leaves their data. Based on the data and the customer’s specific activity, we can design further actions.

 

360-degree view – what is hidden underneath?

What hides underneath is, of course, data, meaning the customer database. Sometimes the term 360-degree view is used alternately with the term database. However, this is just a simplification used in colloquial language. If we want to be in line with the more technical terminology, we say that the 360 view is the database’s visualization.

Building a database begins with the Salesforce implementation. But this beginning is somewhat symbolic because, in practice, the database is not created from scratch with the system’s implementation. This Salesforce database is created based on all legacy systems in two ways.

The first is migration – at the beginning of the project, we upload data from files provided by the customer and other databases into the new tool. It slowly grows, and the 360-degree view grows with it.

The second way is through integrations. For example, with an e-commerce platform, a customer wants to use B2C marketing automation within an existing online store. By integrating with Salesforce, we add another block to the 360-view, in this case, the store. And new data comes with it, for example, information about the customer’s shopping cart or product categories.

Importantly, regardless of the number of integrations (as there can be many), we still have customer’s full, consistent view. It is created and organized in a single tool, meaning Salesforce. The tool that holds the data is also called the master.

 

Master’s triangle – what does it have to do with the 360-view?

It turns out that it has, and quite a lot. Let’s start with a triangle and its vertices, on which the following slogans appear: cheap, fast, and good. Of course, each of them is on its top, and the master assures us that this is how they do our dream renovation. But when we make an appointment with the master, we can choose two tops. The result? Too well known.

And now the 360-view. It also has three tops or rather criteria that should be met for it to function properly. Completeness, timeliness, and accessibility. If any of the elements fails, the whole thing falls apart.

Is any of them more important? No, because they form a system of interconnected vessels. If there is no availability, there is no timeliness and completeness. If there is no completeness, accessibility is for naught and timeliness is also mediocre.

The question is, is it possible for all criteria to always be met? Yes, when using Salesforce.

Timeliness. When the system launches, the data is up to date. Once it’s live and starting to grow, there’s a risk of data duplication. Fortunately, Salesforce itself prevents us from this predicament with its automatic deduplication mechanism. However, the mechanism works under one condition – a properly prepared data architecture in the system.

Accessibility. Accessibility is the ease of using data on any tool – computer, tablet, or phone. Salesforce makes this possible with a mobile app, offered at the tool’s price.

But what about out of reach or offline accessibility? This is where Salesforce meets users halfway. Even when you are out in the field, without Internet access, you can enter the system, go back to the last viewed information, or leave a note. When the connection to the network is restored, all data is loaded into the system automatically.

But accessibility also means that every employee who interacts with a customer should have access to the database to the extent appropriate for their role – to read the information that is relevant to themselves, as well as to leave information that may be useful to others. This accessibility can also be controlled by location or specific networks and devices. This is a key element in the company’s and its customers’ data security, so this element remains the system administrators’ responsibility.

And finally – completeness. This one is in the users’ hands. But you don’t have to worry about it. If users have easy access to the tool, see value in it, and enjoy using it, there should be no problem with them completing the data.

Författare

  • Marek
  • Salesforce CRM Consultant | Marketing Cloud Team Manager
  • Sales and business development specialist. He started his career in the hospitality industry, and then moved to IT (JAVA and Salesforce). He works with clients on the Polish and international markets. Nowadays, he is engaged in selling Salesforce to SMBs and corporations. He focuses on acquiring new clients, taking care of proper implementation of solutions, and developing cooperation based on customer success. He is a Salesforce Accredited Sales Professional.

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