Customer 360 is a business idea dealing with how SMBs understand their target markets . Generally, it’s all about putting together customer data so you can reach out to them effectively.
Small Business Trends talked with Brent Leary Co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials . He supplied an overview of why this is important to your SMB success.
“It seems like the idea has been around forever,” he says. “It’s like the Holy Grail of business. It’s about collecting data to find out everything that you can about a customer.”
Customer Data Ocean
He says there’s quite a few different tributaries feeding the customer data ocean so you can get insights.
“Customer 360 can start before they’re a customer. You’re looking at things like how they interact with you and what kind of things they’re looking for.”
Then SMBs need to add in other factors including how customers like to be engaged with and what their reactions are to your goods and services. And those are just a few more of the ingredients that go into the mix.
“It includes everything that you need to know about a customer from a sales, marketing and service perspective,” he says.
The Digital Age
Sound like a confusing hodgepodge for a busy entrepreneur? Leary supplies focus and a path forward. There’s lots more information to sort through in the digital age too.
One of the big tools used for Customer 360 is CRM. But early on it was only a place to store contact information. Now Leary says the cloud and the latest CRM companies like Zoho and Salesforce are front and center. They are able to help small businesses leverage and makes sense of this information.
“These companies make these applications affordable to use. They take out all the complexity of trying to turn the data into insights,” he says.
Leary breaks the process down into steps highlighting how these tools work. Look for a company that can do all of the following.
“The first thing is being able to find the data,” he says adding it can come from several different sources. These sources include social media, messaging apps and even website activity to name just a few. Statistics and numbers from any one source can give you some insights. The first idea on the road to Customer 360 is to get all this information in one place.
The next step is to be able to find insights and patterns that you can’t see on your own.
“You also need to get these insights at the right time to make a connection with the customer or prospect,” Leary says. There’s more. After you get insights and make connections you need to analyze them to see what works and what doesn’t.
If that sounds confusing it shouldn’t. He isn’t suggesting small business owners go it alone. For one thing, you can use automation to pull all the information together in one central place. Here’s some tools  that you can use.
Leary supplies a good tip when you’re trying to sort through all of your options here.
“You can set up your profile with some of these and they’ll start adding information about the folks that are already in your system,” he says. “These tools are out there to make the process of data entry easier.”
You’re building a Customer 360 foundation when you’re integrating data into your CRM system. But there are other new innovations you can’t afford to ignore. The latest digital tools that point you to customers most likely to buy.
How Artificial Intelligence Fits In
“Over the last couple of years, you’ve been hearing a lot about AI and Machine Learning,” Leary says. He adds this is the latest piece of the puzzle and one you can’t do without. “AI and Machine Learning analyze the data in a way the human brain just can’t.”
These systems can take huge amounts of data and continually analyze it for the insights your SMB needs. One of the best things is the system is continually working for you. You tell them what works and what doesn’t and Machine Learning builds on that.
He also stresses that these new digital ‘brains’ aren’t really a threat. They free us up to build customer relationships based on the analytics they provide. To do what we’re best at—the human part.
“Artificial intelligence might provide the insight,” Leary says, “but we take that insight and deliver it in a human way to a potential customer. That’s the whole Customer 360 thing.”