Provide a 360-Degree View of the Customer Relationship

Leading the Way to Customer Loyalty and Profitability

January 25, 2006

The fourth critical success factor originally introduced in is “Provide a 360-degree view of the customer relationship.” Make sure you capture every interaction with your customers and make that information available to both the customer, and appropriate employees and stakeholders.


In this updated version of the discussion of the fourth critical success factor presented in, we discuss how providing a 360-degree view of your relationships with your customers can lead to customer loyalty and in-creased profitability. The important factors in providing a complete customer view are:
•    Provide one-stop shopping for the customer. This is more than just maintaining a large portfolio of products and services. It also means addressing all customer problems and requests (from ordering to billing to ideas for improvement, etc.) in a single interaction (or at a single place where cus-tomers may perform multiple interactions).
•    “Remember” everything your company knows about the customer. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than realizing that the person (or system) they are interacting with has no idea what has already taken place. Case in point, consider how annoying it is when you’ve punched in your account number on an IVR system, only to have the live representative to whom you have been routed ask you for your account number again.
•    Ensure that everyone in the company has access to the complete customer picture. Customers don’t want to be bounced from department to department to complete their agendas. Foster an atmosphere that values sharing customer information for the ulti-mate good of the customer and the organi-zation.
•    Put an underlying technical infrastructure into place to provide a 360-degree view. In order to accomplish all this, you need to put the customer at the center of your infor-mation access. Give customers and em-ployees access to consolidated information from all your different functional areas.

A New Version of

In the eight years since our best-selling book was first published in 1998, we have received almost constant requests for updates to both the concepts and the case studies presented in the book. In 3Q 2006, we’ll be publishing an updated version. But as subscribers to our advisory service, you don’t have to wait! You’ll receive each updated section and case study as they’re completed. Stay tuned.

The Eight CSFs

In, we identified eight critical success factors for making it easy for your cus-tomers to do business with you. The CSFs are:
•    Target the right customers
•    Own the customer’s total experience
•    Streamline business processes that impact the customer
•    Provide a 360-degree view of the customer relationship
•    Let customers help themselves
•    Help customers do their jobs
•    Deliver personalized service
•    Foster community

They sound so simple, so prosaic. Yet as we “unpack” each one, you’ll see that there are many subtleties involved in getting them right.

As we approached updating the CSFs, we discovered that they really stood up to the test of time. Although we have updated some of the examples to better reflect the current state of the companies referenced (especially when there has been a significant change), the factors themselves remain viable and pretty much unchanged.

In this report, we present the fourth critical success factor: “Provide a 360-degree view of the customer relationship.”


In order to be successful in providing a great customer experience, both online and offline, everyone who touches the customer needs to be able to see the total picture—a 360-degree view—of that customer’s relationship with your firm. For more than a decade, organizations have em-barked on relationship management initiatives in order to capture and manage customer in-formation. Yet when you examine these efforts closely, you usually find that, even after 10 years, they are often addressing only one or two aspects of the customer’s relationship with the or-ganization. For example, companies typically streamline and automate customer support processes. Or they focus on the sales process. Particularly insightful organizations may have integrated their customer support and sales processes, and their underlying systems and data. In that case, a salesperson can be made aware of an outstanding service issue with the customer he’s wooing, or a service rep would know just how valuable this particular customer is to the firm.

But even this cross-functional integration doesn’t go far enough. There are still any number of customer interactions not addressed by salespeople or support desks. For example, exactly who does a customer call when he has an idea for a new product or feature he could use?

Here’s an example of an early recognition of the importance of providing a complete view of the customer. Since the late 1990s, Microsoft has instilled this 360-degree approach for everyone who works with its enterprise accounts. Microsoft provided each of its very large “enterprise” cus-tomers with its own set of Web pages. This is where Microsoft consolidated everything it knew about the account, not only in terms of software and systems installed and on order, but also regarding competitive situations (where the customer might be considering solutions from another vendor), possible strategic or tactical initiatives that the customer is considering imple-menting, and the customer’s up-to-the-minute service records.

While the customer’s account manager “owns” this customer Web site, key executives, such as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, would consult this database before they interacted with any accounts. Key consulting partners were offered access to this information in exchange for entering their client engagement notes on the site (providing rewards on both sides for sharing the information). The benefit to customers is that they felt they were being served by “one Microsoft,” even though ...


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