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Jun 30, 2021

The Secret to a Customer-Centric Approach is Hiding in Plain Sight: First-Party Customer Data

Editor’s Note: This is a contributed guest blog from PWC, a Redpoint partner

Old habits die hard. Often, though, external forces have a way of inducing reluctant change. In the financial industry, this is what’s happening today with the deprecation of the third-party cookie as the catalyst for organizations to – at long last – abandon retargeting and embrace the role of first-party data to truly understand customers, both from the perspective of an overall enterprise data strategy as well as for marketing and analytics.

With change comes confusion. Many financial organizations are off on fits and starts, unsure of how to adopt a true customer-centric approach without the crutch of a tracking cookie and retargeted advertising to attract and market to customers. Even with widespread anxiety over the best way forward, there is also a general recognition that the best place to start is with something organizations all have – customers; there’s a burgeoning recognition that the secret to customer-centricity has been hiding in plain sight. The question, then, becomes how best to derive insight from the entirety of first-party customer data to go above and beyond the benefits of using a tracking cookie to instead deliver a personalized, relevant customer experience across channels and departments.

Beyond Basic Identity Stitching

The immediate concern for many institutions is that siloed businesses stand in the way of having a single view of the customer. While there has been some movement toward breaking down institutional siloes, particularly among the largest banks, independent divisions are a more common sight. Credit cards, retail banking, mortgage, wealth management, etc. traditionally have their own marketing and analytics teams, often with competing or divergent tactics for how to attract or retain what in many cases is the same customer across multiple businesses.

There is a mindset out there – albeit misguided – that identity stitching will solve for the data silo problem and break down barriers. If every business simply places its customer data in a data lake, the thinking goes, everyone can go in there pull out what they need to create a more robust view of the customer and at least begin to experiment with different use cases for a personalized CX.

The issue there is that democratic access to customer data does not magically produce a single source of truth. It’s tantamount to a construction zone crowded with pallets of equipment and raw material with a dozen or so foremen each with his own vision for the finished building. With a goal to truly understand customer lifetime value, or to segment an audience to drive an individualized marketing campaign, there needs to be synergy between core and ancillary systems.

Marketing and an Enterprise Data Strategy: One and the Same

The confusion over how to bridge this gap stems from a traditional viewpoint that a customer identifier as it relates to an enterprise strategy – an overall operational view – must be separate from an analytical view used for marketing purposes. There is uncertainty over who is responsible for what, and how a universal key for a customer that contains every transaction and anything related to risk, compliance, finance and accounting will mesh with the marketing side, which will contain household information, channel activities, campaigns run, lifetime value, and other data points historically used by and for marketing.

A consequence of divergent strategies is uncertainty that an enterprise strategy is, in fact, based on an accurate view of the customer. A familiar example is the pricing of term deposits. Many institutions offer blanket or individual rates rather than pricing the fixed-term investments as loss leaders for their most valuable customers. For many, the reason is that they just don’t know who their most valuable customers are, and thus are unable to price any product as part of a customer’s overall portfolio. That’s just one small example of how knowing everything there is to know about a customer may help spur revenue growth, and it wouldn’t by conventional standards be considered a marketing use case.

Everything stems from the single customer view, and in some instances driving revenue growth may not even be the overarching objective. Perhaps the institution wants to segment an audience to attract a more diversified customer base, or to attract customers that better align with a brand’s image as it pertains to social or environmental issues. The point is, a strategy centered on the customer must have a solid understanding of an individual customer, and that understanding depends on combining the traditionally separate operational and marketing views.

The Way Forward Starts with a Focus on the Customer

At PwC, we spend a lot of time educating clients on either side of the divide, how to align an enterprise data strategy with the marketing/analytics side to drive growth, prevent churn, plan and orchestrate omnichannel campaigns. What’s attractive in working with Redpoint is that proofs of concept with the rg1 platform helps them see, using their own data, not only what a true single customer view looks like, but one that’s fitted for both marketing/analytics and the enterprise data strategy.

Many other vendors in the customer data platform space have a very difficult time playing both sides of the aisle, if you will, primarily because they stop at basic identity stitching – leaving it up to marketers to decide what data are pertinent. But that’s in keeping with what is increasingly an antiquated notion of institutional siloes. To trust that the customer data is providing not only a single view of the customer, but one that is in real time and relevant to the entirety of the customer’s journey with all departments, there must be a capability to do householding, to do advanced identity resolution with both probabilistic and deterministic matching, and to bring online and offline data together.

rg1 helps companies advance the vision, from knowing they should start with what they know – the customer – to actually envision what a unified, real time profile looks like and how to begin experimenting with using a single view to deliver a personalized, customer-centric experience.


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