Customer Data Integration: Accuracy vs. Privacy

They say that love makes the world go ’round, but in business, it’s data that often fuels the fire. Whether it’s confirming a customer’s address or looking up past account information, having accessible data at hand streamlines the process and can help in cross-selling and marketing efforts. Of course, while accurate and timely data are a must, companies are also required to protect such data by keeping all such pertinent data private using intelligent customer data integration.

The problem with data

Data is the foundation of accounts, marketing and customer service, but it can also be problematic. For one, data is often entered manually, so its accuracy can be compromised by occasional human error. What’s more, the dynamic nature of today’s consumer means that such data can sometimes change overnight – marriage, divorce, recent moves and even customer whim can sometimes result in multiple versions of the same information.

Privacy laws

If customer names, addresses and phone numbers are incorrect or outdated, why not just manually search and replace the old information with the new? For one, this is time consuming. Second, privacy laws may prohibit or restrict the sharing of such personal information across platforms and to third parties without written notification to the customer.

Therefore, a bank with separate databases for deposit accounts and mortgages may not be able to share or disclose such customer information across its two platforms. Unfortunately, this may result in an existing mortgage customer receiving a mortgage offer from the same bank, which is an annoyance to the customer and a waste of time and money for the bank.

Playing match-up

One answer to the challenge of streamlining customer data integration is to use a system that enables platforms to share data without revealing personal information. Equifax Customer Data Integration (CDI) tools assign a unique key to the same customer across all databases, so even if personal information is unavailable, companies can establish the identity of the customer across multiple platforms.

Say a bank’s mortgage department is planning a marketing campaign, for example. The CDI will provide the customer key for a basic account member and match it with a mortgage account. The accounts are then linked without any personal information being shared, disclosed or revealed.

Customer benefits

While a CDI may seem like a system that solely benefits the company, it has an upside for customers as well. The reduction in unwanted and third-party offers is a benefit alone, but data integration also helps customers to better protect their most vital information — Social Security numbers (SSN), address changes and name changes. This results in enhanced fraud protection — especially because the system can detect when the same SSN is used multiple times across related platforms.

A CDI system only makes sense: The company can more effectively tailor offers and new accounts, and the customer is better positioned to protect his or her identity, as well as the ability to opt out of future offers across the board.

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