Ensuring High-Quality Customer Data and Using It

By Andrew Stevens

Most banks have gigabytes of customer information. And while data quantity is important in piecing together a single, 360-degree view of your customers, the quality of the data is just as crucial in delivering a positive customer experience.

Some of the results of ambiguous or inaccurate customer data are obvious. For example, a representative in your call center receives a request from Jack Smith at 123 Elm Street. He wants you to stop sending print copies of his statement—he now wants to be notified via email. Is this the same customer as John David Smith at 123 Elm Street? They could be father and son or share some other relationship. Is there a typo in the address?

Will the real Jack Smith please stand up?

One thing is certain, if these are two different customers, Jack Smith will not be happy when he continues to receive printed mail, while John David Smith might be upset if he no longer receives paper statements.

The challenge in developing an accurate single customer view is that data is drawn from various departments in your bank—and possibly from external sources such as social channels. While this provides a range of different perspectives from which to build a well-rounded, “helicopter” view of the client, you will find that some sources are more accurate and complete than others. Inaccurate, conflicting or duplicate records can contaminate the quality of your data and make your communications less effective or entirely irrelevant to the recipient.

Best practices for the best data.

One best practice is to have each internal department check and verify the customer data they own and then standardize it to suit your bank’s needs. Use the source data to cleanse and refine the information and then consolidate it. That makes it easier to match and merge like entities to create a single view of the customer. This single view should be accessible to all customer-facing employees so they can understand and respond appropriately to customer needs.

You must also realize that ensuring data quality is an ongoing process. As customers embark on their unique journeys through your organization—engaging at various touchpoints—many things can and do change. Taking the time to create a customer journey map is a way to formalize these customer interactions, making it possible to analyze different parts of the journey.

Example: In the loan application process, does the customer move from the application to accepting a loan offer? Or does the map indicate the journey stopped before the application process was completed? With this information you can track what happened, why and for which customers.

A customer journey map can also provide important insights into:

  • What is working well in your organization
  • What may need to be improved
  • What appeals to certain customers
  • What may not appeal to them

Every engagement in the customer journey provides additional customer information that may indicate a change in a client’s preferences. These changes should be noted in the customer profile because they can be used as opportunities for your bank to create relevant communications that connect with a customer’s current needs.

Testing your conclusions.

While creating a customer journey map is helpful for analyzing your operations and interactions with customers, it is also important to test the conclusions you draw from them against actual customer data.

Using data to confirm or refute what you think your customers are experiencing is incredibly powerful. This approach can apply to general topics or to specifics like your website design.

Many organizations offer brief surveys at the conclusion of online engagements or call center interactions—simply two or three questions with the option to add personal comments. These surveys can help assess customer satisfaction, generate useful suggestions and validate (or question) your assumptions about the effectiveness of your initiatives.

Such surveys are one way to connect directly with customers, hear their concerns, improve your operations and enhance your customers’ experience in specific operational areas of your bank. They provide additional insight into your customers’ needs and interests and may allow you to identify trends among different customer demographics.

The results can be surprising.

Having the ability to track customer response to a specific issue over time is another effective way to gauge the success or failure of your initiatives—and any changes that should be made in day-to-day operations. You can also measure your bank’s performance by devising key performance indicators that set a goal for the level of customer satisfaction you wish to achieve and then rank your success according to customer feedback.

Historically, consolidating data has been a challenge for even the most motivated marketers, because the data has been collected piecemeal. Combining that data, cleansing it, and making it marketing-ready may seem like an overwhelming task. However, marketers that take the initiative to bring multiple data sources together into a 360-degree customer view are opening up a world of opportunity.

Andrew Stevens is global banking specialist for Quadient, the award-winning leader in customer communications management software. With nearly two decades of experience at one of the world’s largest banks, Andrew covers all aspects of banking operations and technology with respect to customer communications management and customer experience. He can be reached at [email protected]