While digital media has given businesses numerous channels to engage with their customers, only 16% of companies currently use that data to form a single customer view (SCV).

Creating a SCV gives businesses the ability to track customers and their communications and purchase behaviour across channels.

A survey by Experian found that while 72% of businesses recognise the benefits of using data to offer customers a joined-up multichannel experience, 84% aren’t able to use the data effectively.

More than two-thirds (70%) believe that a SCV would lead to cost savings, with 20% claiming it would help to reduce their bad debt.

A further 50% acknowledged they would see improved customer service levels, while 41% indicated they would see better customer retention. But while it is easy to see the benefits of a SCV, businesses are in part held back by technological limitations.

In a recent interview Google’s head of retail Rick Jones told us that while mobile and Chrome are helping to join the dots between offline and online, it is still embryonic.

We are not there yet, but if we can understand someone’s behaviour across different devices on their route to a purchase, whether that’s offline or online, then that’s clearly a very powerful insight.

He said that at the very least businesses need to make sure they offer a consistent customer experience across all offline and online channels.

Experian’s survey shows that even among the minority of businesses who claim to offer a joined up multichannel experience, on average only three out of seven channels are truly integrated.

It also polled UK consumers on the benefits of a SCV, with 74% suggesting that they would respond positively to personalised marketing communications. Almost half (44%) said they would request additional marketing information, however statistics predicting future behaviour should be treated with scepticism.

Experian’s report is based on a survey of 400 businesses and 2,000 UK consumers.

David Moth

Published 25 May, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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