Within Customer Success having a ‘single source of truth’ is vitally important to ensure everyone who communicates directly with your clients has a true view of the client relationship status. No matter who within your business speaks to the client, they should be aware of all the current facts when speaking with them. For example, what if the Customer Success Manager, who is trying to renew their contract was not aware they had not paid any invoices in 6 months, or had raised a number of unresolved support cases, given a low NPS score or made a complaint to the CEO? At best it might seem slightly unprofessional, at worst it may lose the renewal.
In most, if not all businesses multiple different systems are often in use. The Sales team may use a CRM such as Hubspot or Salesforce to capture their communications with the client. The accounts team may use Xero , Sage or similar to manage invoices and payments, alongside document tools such as DocuSign to manage client contracts and letters. The Customer Success Team may have a designated tool such as Gainsight/Natero or might be using spreadsheets and email. The Support Team are likely to have a ticketing system such as ZenDesk or Fresh Desk. And so on across Marketing, Legal etc.
In an ideal setup, all these isolated software applications should integrate into one central application. Giving you a single dashboard view for a client where you can see their status with Accounts, Support, Customer Success and so on. This is often then colour coded so you can quickly asses the health of a client and be aware on any problems prior to speaking with them. E.G. A red status for ‘Accounts’ could flag their payment is overdue.
Typically many companies try to achieve this view within their CRM. But there are better tools out there to do this with, such as Gainsight who have a feature built in called ‘360 Customer View’. This aggregates all of the data streams to give you a ‘single source of truth’ view of your client and their respective health score at anytime. Capture all interactions, monitor all KPI’s and pickup quickly on vulnerable clients.
But what if your individual systems do not communicate with each other and you don’t have the budget to introduce a tool such as Gainsight? How can you obtain a single source of truth?
If you are currently in this situation of having your client data across different platforms and not integrated/consolidated anywhere I would highly recommend looking into a tool such as Gainsight before progressing with your ‘single source of truth’ project. Even if budget is not available, I would still look into this and make a case. The reason I say this is because it will take a significant effort to integrate your data channels into one ‘single source of truth platform’. If you are going to invest in this effort then you will want to be able to use that consolidated data to its full potential once done, and tools such as Gainsight will facilitate that. By adding in a tool now, you are laying the foundations for the future.
If you have limited or no budget but have some reasonable technical skills within the business that you can lean on, then maybe a solution such as Google Data Studio might be for you. Google Data Studio can be used for free (within certain limits) and allows you to create custom dashboard views using data from multiple different channels. You can pull in data from other platforms, databases and other google products such as Google Analytics. You can then make a dashboard view that lists the main metrics you need. This will not work well as a communication tracker but will give you a quick health check view of a client. You will need to be quite technical to setup most of the integrations.
If technical skills are limited making the above not an option, and there is no budget to invest in a new tool, then options are limited, but improvements could still be made.
You could setup a Google Sheet, shared with all departments that has a tab for each client. Within the tab for each client, key data can be added, and notes placed. E.G. Account in debt, speak to accounts for details. This requires a lot of discipline across the business to ensure it is kept current, but I would strongly recommend doing this if the other options are not available and you currently have data across multiple systems.
I would only suggest doing this in Google Sheets and not excel. Google Sheets is hosted online and can be viewed and edited by multiple people at the same time. With Excel you could end up with endless copies of the same file, and people overriding each other.
In summary, a ‘Single source of truth’ is vitally important within every business. How can you make the best of any opportunity without all of the information to hand. If you can, invest in a tool early, lay the foundations and then reap the rewards.