Young woman at work using her mobile phone

One of the key challenges faced by many large consumer businesses is that they don’t have a singular view of their customers

Often they have lots of customer data, but it is stored in disparate systems, usually in different formats, each version having its own unique reference number with little or no ability to link the data together and attribute it to a single known identity (i.e. the customer).

The effect of this is that whilst the customer has a single-view of the business, the business does not have a single view of the customer and is likely to interact with its customers in sub-optimal ways because it is not joined-up internally.

As consumers in today’s digital world, we (rightly) expect the businesses who provide us with goods and services to understand us wholly and to interact with us accordingly.

There are many causes for this lack of a single customer view:

  1. Data quality

    Having complete, accurate and recent information on customers is not only a regulatory requirement, but also an important first step in identifying and consolidating customer records.

    • Missing data: This varies from sector to sector. In Financial Services, missing data on new account relationships is typically less of an issue due to the importance based on verifying consumer identities at point of application. However, for older accounts and relationships, some significant historic issues, still remain, in place. For Utilities businesses, significant data gaps (e.g. forename and date of birth fields) exist across large sections of customer populations.
    • Inaccurate and poorly formatted data: Names, Addresses and DOBs are still the most commonly used customer identifiers. The potential variation across these data items is enormous and requires sophisticated data standardisation processes and tools. Vertical addresses (Flats) are a long-standing challenge for many businesses.
  2. Data hygiene/enrichment

    Getting data quality right is not a one-off task. Customers – and their data – continuously change and it is important for businesses to stay on top of this. For example, organisations must understand whether their customers have changed address or their contact details (email, mobile phone, etc.). But it’s not just contact details. Knowing if there has been a recent family bereavement would enable businesses to offer support and alter their contact strategies at important moments for their customers. Doing this requires ongoing commitment from businesses to keep their customer data current and relevant.

  3. Customer linking

    If businesses are unable to identify and link multiple customer records, they are unable to create a complete picture of their customers resulting in lack of understanding their customer circumstances and needs. Without a single view of their customers, businesses are unable to obtain insight on their customers across all their products, accurately assess customers’ risk exposure and they may miss opportunities to identify vulnerable customers in financial stress.

    As a customer, it is frustrating when brands are unable to link all the products and engage intelligently knowing what the customer already has taken out. Lack of this knowledge results in new opportunities being missed and customer service impacted.

How can brands use data effectively to understand and manage their customers?

Is your brand data driven? Are you harnessing the power of data to drive positive outcomes? Maximise the use of data for better customer experience and increased productivity. According to the recent Data Management report released by Experian:


of brands say their contact data is decaying faster than ever so they need a sustainable data quality solution


say they have so much data in the organisation that it is difficult to prioritise where data management can add most value


say that inaccurate data hurt their ability to respond to market changes during the pandemic


indicate that poor-quality contact data for customers negatively impacts their operational processes and efficiency

The areas where data can accelerate performance are:

  1. Understanding your customers

    Having a robust Single Customer View enhances an organisation’s ability to obtain insight and understand its customers to ensure that their customer journey is being managed according to their needs and risk exposure. An accurate and a holistic view of customers facilitates a personalised and a better customer experience resulting in brand loyalty.

  2. Meeting regulatory requirements

    Complying with GDPR and FCA regulations to treat customers fairly is of paramount importance to brand reputation. Having a ‘true’ Single Customer View across all products and channels reduces the risk of not identifying changes in customers’ financial circumstances and taking the wrong decisions resulting in not complying with regulation. Ensuring customers’ address details are accurate, name and date of birth information is populated and correct helps the organisations to understand their customers and place them in segments where they may be eligible for more appropriate products and services.

  3. Inform customer management strategy

    Consumer habits are changing and a number of trends of changing consumer behavior have emerged during the pandemic. The rise of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), the challenges faced by the energy companies and the impact on consumers of economic down-turn resulting in increase in bad debt, ending of furlough scheme are all providing rich insight into consumers’ financial circumstances. Leveraging this data quickly and efficiently through a robust Single Customer View and turning the insight into actionable items can help the brands to serve their customers better and offer the right products at the right time driving growth and increasing profitability.

  4. Technological transformation

    A number of organisations are migrating their legacy systems to cloud based technology. They are using this as an opportunity to cleanse and enrich customer data, remove duplicates and create a customer centric database to help them serve their customers better. Single Customer View, powered by reference data matching is pivotal to such a migration activity. A number of businesses in Financial Services and Insurance sectors have benefitted by using Experian’s matching capability and facilitating a Single Customer View via Experian’s Identity Resolution Proposition, which has added confidence and trust in the data being migrated.

Experian has data, products and services that can help organisations to overcome the above challenges and obtain cleansed, enriched data with a unique, accurate and persistent identifier facilitating the creation of a robust Single Customer View.