Like an unexpected detour that brings a driver down unfamiliar roads, a customer journey often has stops and starts that brands may not have anticipated but still need to prepare for.
The dynamics of a household present an example familiar to marketers who may suddenly find the degree of difficulty raised a notch for presenting the perfect next-best action in the context of a customer journey. Imagine a customer who visits a brand’s website and searches for video games, maybe the latest Halo or Fortnite release. The customer also visits the physical store and puts in a pre-order, engages in a gaming community forum and posts a Tik Tok video showing a mastery of an older release.
Throughout this journey, the brand knows that the customer is the same individual across every channel because it has a complete identity graph, which links all the identities through which a person, a customer or an entity presents themselves to the brand. It also has a descriptive tail, with the customer’s behavioral, demographics, transformations, preferences and model scores. With this Golden Record, the brand is primed to present a next-best action wherever and whenever the customer appears in a channel. Maybe it’s an offer for a discount on the new release if the customer becomes a brand advocate on social media, or agrees to review the new game. Or perhaps a real-time recommendation engine presents the ideal game – not because it’s popular in the 18-to-35 demographic or based on past transactions, but because an automated machine learning model selected the recommendation based on what the Golden Record dictates.
Without Householding, You’re Driving Blind
So far, so good. The brand is moving in unison with the customer throughout the customer journey and delivering a seamless customer experience. But then a roadblock occurs – a laptop associated with the customer’s identity graph takes actions during a session that are uncharacteristic of the customer – unsubscribing from notifications and removing products from a saved items list.
What to do? Did the customer find the product somewhere else for less money? Did the customer lose a job? Decide that gaming’s a waste of time? Or, perhaps, the IP address is associated with the customer’s physical address, and maybe someone else in the household is using the customer’s device – a mother adamant that no child of hers is going to be a brand advocate.
The above scenario shows the importance of householding as part of a complete Golden Record, specifically the importance of advanced identity resolution that uses a combination of probabilistic and deterministic matching to accurately determine household dynamics. A customer may present to a brand as an individual, but also within the context of the household, and it’s vital to make an accurate match to know how to keep the customer journey rolling along.
A brand that knows the household dynamics may know, for instance, that the gaming customer typically uses a credit card that is tied to the same physical address, but that is also associated with two other devices used in that same household. Through probabilistic matching, an algorithm may determine with 90 percent accuracy that the customer’s mother was driving the outlier session. The brand then defuses the situation by pulling the offer to become an advocate, instead offering the mother a discount on a mesh system where she can control when each household device can access wi-fi, gaming consoles included.
Bank on a Perfect CX with Householding
Householding is important for more than retailers, of course. Financial institutions have a vested interest in recognizing various relationships and households, and with linking or matching multiple accounts to one household. Knowing household dynamics is of critical importance not only for marketing – to know which products or services may be of interest for a household or household member – but also for any department that engages with a customer, whether a call center, a teller, a lender, etc. In addition to the probabilistic matching difficulties like the above example, banks and financial institutions often run into deterministic matching challenges – different addresses (St. vs. Street), names (John Smith vs. John Smith Jr.) or simple human error such as an account number keyed incorrectly. Add in commercial accounts, or multiple members of a household with multiple physical addresses, and determining and serving the centers of influence becomes difficult.
A seamless customer experience depends on the inclusion of householding as part of a complete, accurate and up-to-date Golden Record. Advanced identity resolution that relies on both probabilistic and deterministic matching presents a holistic, single customer view of an individual customer across the enterprise, spanning every device, channel and behavior. It also importantly lets a brand or institution know whether an individual is presenting to the brand as an individual – or as a member of the household.
Depending on the answer, the difference in how to engage with that customer might be small or large, but without household information in a Golden Record, a brand will be doing little more than hazarding a guess. More than a detour, it might lead the brand to a complete dead end – a promising customer journey stopped dead in its tracks because householding was not given the attention it deserves.