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Ask Gini: Customer Level – Your Customers are Customers, Not Products!

Dear Gini,

All of our models and strategies are built at the account level, such as credit card and mortgage. We would like to move up and begin managing at the customer level. What is your advice?

Yours truly,
Nancy

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Dear Nancy,

I’m continually surprised by the number of bankers who don’t know their customers. I just want to say to them, “Please, may I introduce you to your customer?” So Nancy, I applaud you for wanting to take this step. A customer is a customer – not a credit card account. It seems obvious to me that we should all be treating our customers as actual people. Yet, when I share this sentiment with some bankers, they look at me as if they’ve just discovered the world is round.

So how do you go about accomplishing what you want to do? The three most important things to consider when moving from the account to customer level are: 1. Data 2. Data and 3. Data. No, I’m not stutter writing. You read that right.

Find out the answers to these critical questions. What are your data sources for each of your products? Do you have a clean match key to merge those data sources together easily? Once merged, can you get your data systems to talk to each other in the moment when the decision needs to be made?

Nancy, I’m super impressed that you want to do the right thing here, but it might not be worth it. The bad news, if you didn’t already know, is integrating data across product systems requires a hefty IT investment. You need to evaluate the return on that investment. How you do that? First, calculate the average of your cross-product holdings. That is, on average, how many of your products does your typical customer hold? If you discover that on average your customers hold three or more of your products, then making the IT investment is well worth it. The ability to make your decisions while seeing the full picture could be magic.

If, on the other hand, your average customer holds 1.2 products, you won’t get much return on your IT investment and probably have other issues to contend with. If this is the case, may I suggest that you go talk to a few actual customers and ask them why they don’t have a bigger relationship with you.

Finally, don’t you dare consult those account level models! After meeting with walking, talking, breathing customers, develop and implement strategies to strengthen your relationship with them.

I sincerely hope your cross-product holdings number is three or more. If so, start convincing senior leadership to invest in cross- system data integration. Then reap the benefits and enjoy the opportunity to delight all your “actual” customers.

Yours truly, Gini


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