How a Single Customer View and Golden Records are different, and why that matters

5 minute read

Is there any difference between Single Customer View and the Golden Customer Record? If you spend some time reading up on the pair, you might not think so. In recent years, the two terms have been used somewhat interchangeably, yet I’d argue that today there is a definite distinction.

The Golden Record is just what it sounds like: a holy grail, a gold standard. It’s what all data-driven marketers should aspire to: a clean, organized, comprehensive record of their customers, purged of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Easier said than done.

Anyone who has had to sort through their data knows the frustration of duplicate entries, with different emails, last names spelled with typos, abbreviations of names, different postal codes and so on. When customer data is being collected, especially from multiple channels, these errors are inevitable.

But that doesn’t marketers have to live with it. In fact, to achieve the Golden Record, these data issues are something that marketers can tackle – thanks to the Single Customer View.

As a process rather than the end goal, the Single Customer View has the ability to not only match and merge data, but also cleanse and standardize it, providing marketers with the best possible view of their customers.

To achieve the Golden Record, marketers must use these SCV capabilities to cleanse and consolidate data, to bring together all that they’ve collected and use the tools at their disposal to ensure that it is as accurate as possible. With a Single Customer View this is well within reach.

However, it also requires marketers to think creatively about the sort of problems they may have to sort out. While there are the larger issues that might result in multiple entries for the same individual (say, multiple logins, one created via phone number, and one created via email), there are also the silly ones that we tend not to think of, such as a customer accidentally mistyping their email.

To simplify the process, you can think of the Single Customer View as three basic steps to analyze and organize your data and make the Golden Record possible:

  • Match
  • Cleanse
  • Consolidate

Matching is simple enough. Do you have multiple entries for Jennifer Smith (perhaps a J Smith, Jen Smith and Jenny Smith all exist too)? Beyond the customer’s name what information do you have? Based on that information is it safe to assume that these multiple entries for Jennifer Smith all refer to the same customer? In many ways, this step resembles the process of identity resolution—and since the cause of multiple entries may, in fact, be multiple devices, the two share a fair bit of procedural overlap. When you’re looking to match entries, Single Customer View acts as a sort of data detective, helping you discern whether your brand is just especially popular with a ton of women named Jennifer Smith all living in the same area, or whether you have too many entries for one customer.

The process of cleansing involves finding those typos or broader inaccuracies and correcting them or wiping them from the record. If a customer has multiple entries, there’s a chance that those entries might contain some of the same information. Do both entries have everything spelled the same way? Are there phone numbers that are missing digits or email addresses missing a character? In any case, Single Customer View must cleanse the record of this data to ensure that it doesn’t derail you further down the line.

The final step is consolidation: unifying all the data you have on a single customer, across multiple entries, acquired from multiple touch points into a single record. Free of inaccuracies and unhindered by duplicates, the Golden Record of your customers will serve as your Single Source of Truth.

So, why make claim there is a difference between the Golden Record and Single Customer View? I promise it’s not just to be pedantic.

Understanding the difference between these two things allows marketers to focus on the potentials of their data, rather than resting on their laurels once it’s all been collected. Single Customer View is a magnificently useful tool, but it cannot be the end-point – constant maintenance and analysis of data is crucial.

The Golden Record is a reminder of just what you can achieve for your customers and for yourself, when you’re constantly pushing on your data and in ways which you arrange and put it into action. And, guess what? That Golden Record won’t be the final step either. There’ll always be something new to achieve, some next step in innovating your marketing. And if you make sure that you do everything you can with all that you have now, we can guarantee those next steps will feel like an exciting challenge, rather than an overwhelming headache.

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