Posted: February 26th, 2023


  1. Identify three industries that may have difficulty identifying their end-user customers. (Refer to the textbook examples, but do not take the examples straight from the book).  (Due: Sunday) Industry 1: What makes identifying customers difficult in this industry? Why is it important for the industry to identify its end-users? How would the industry approach identifying its end users? Industry 2: What makes identifying customers difficult in this industry? Why is it important for the industry to identify its end-users? How would the industry approach identifying its end users? Industry 3: What makes identifying customers difficult in this industry? Why is it important for the industry to identify its end-users? How would the industry approach identifying its end users?
  • You might want to discuss different approaches to identify end users by industry category.


Chapter 4 Identifying Customers

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

—Howard Ruff

Before any relationship can start, both parties have to know each other’s identi- ties and be able to build a comprehensive view of the other. The goal of iden- tifying customers refers not so much to figuring out which customers we want (that comes later) but to recognizing each customer as that customer each time we come in contact with her and then linking those different data points to develop a full picture of each particular customer. This chapter addresses the issue of “identify” for consumers as well as for business customers and defines the different elements of this “identify” task. We also address frequency market- ing in the context of customer identification.

All enterprises use information about their customers to make smarter decisions. But for most traditional marketing decisions and actions, information is really

needed only at the aggregate, or market, level. That is, any marketer needs to know the average demand for a particular product feature within a population of prospec- tive customers, or the range of prices that this market population will find attractive. The enterprise then uses this information to plan its production and distribution as well as its marketing and sales activities.

But building relationships with customers necessarily involves making decisions and taking actions at the level of the individual customer, using customer-specific information in addition to information about the aggregate characteristics of the market population. This is because a “relationship” inherently implies some type of mutual interaction between two individual parties. We cannot have a “relationship” with a population or group but only with another individual. So the competitor trying to win with superior customer relationship strategies needs first to know the individual identities of the customers who make up the traditional marketer’s

Managing Customer Experience and Relationships: A Strategic Framework, Third Edition By Don Peppers and Martha Rogers Copyright © 2017 by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

120 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

aggregate market population. Then the enterprise will make different marketing, sales, distribution, and production decisions, and take different actions, with respect to different customers, to create better experiences and increase customer value, even within the same market or niche population.

We can see this in action. Husband asks wife if she saw the additional stories about gun control suggested on the New York Times Web site they each read that morning on their own computers. Wife answers with a laugh that those were the extra stories offered to him; she had seen suggestions for stories about stock market prospects in China. The items advertised were different, too, of course.

Individual Information requires Customer recognition

The essence of managing customer relationships is treating different customers dif- ferently; therefore, the first requirement for any enterprise to engage in this type of competition is simply to “know” one customer from another. However, identifying individual customers is not an easy process, and too often not a perfect one. It was not that many years ago when a British utility launched a December promotion to acknowledge its very best customers by mailing each of them a holiday greeting card. To the astonishment of its management, nearly 25 percent of these cards were returned to the company unopened in January. Apparently, many of the firm’s “most valuable customers” were actually lampposts. Until that time, this company’s man- agement had equated electric meters with customers, comfortable in the knowledge that because they tracked meters, they also tracked customers. But lampposts don’t read mail or make decisions.

Most enterprises will find it difficult simply to compile a complete and accurate list of all the uniquely individual customers they serve, though some businesses and industries are more naturally able to identify their customers than others. Consider the differences among these businesses, and consider the advantage that would accrue to a company that’s able to identify individual customers and recognize each one at every contact:

■ Telecommunications companies sell many of their services directly to end-user consumers. After all, to bill a customer for her calls in any given sales period, a phone company’s computers must track that customer’s calling activities— numbers connected to, time spent in each connection, day of week, and time of day. But even a cell phone company will likely make some sales to prepaid customers whose identities it can’t actually learn, because they buy their top-up cards in convenience stores or through distributors, and often prepaid custom- ers want to maintain their anonymity. Such a firm may also serve a number of corporate clients whose end users are not specifically identified. And some service providers offer friends and family deals that mean one name stands for half a dozen human customers.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 121

■ Retail banks must know individual customer identities to keep track of each customer’s banking activities and balances. Historically, banks have been orga- nized along lines of business, with credit cards, checking accounts, and home equity loans processed in completely different divisions. As a result, informa- tion about whether a branch banking customer is also a credit card customer often has not always been readily available to either separate division. More and more banks are recognizing the need to coordinate and integrate informa- tion across product divisions, to produce a complete relationship profile of the customer accessible to all divisions in real time.1 Westpac New Zealand Bank is using Bluetooth beacon connections and biometrics such as fingerprints along with traditional account numbers, ATM cards, and caller ID to identify customers in a way that delivers the most complete real-time picture of cus- tomer interaction with the bank. In addition, all banking products used by the customer (such as mortgages, retirement, checking accounts, investments, etc.) are tracked in one customer profile. While this capability is available at more and more financial services institutions, the goal for Westpac goes a step further; they want employees to use that data to anticipate individual customer needs.2

■ Consumer packaged goods companies sell their grocery and personal care prod- ucts in supermarkets, drugstores, and other retail outlets. Although their true end customers are those who walk into the stores and buy these products, there is no technically simple way for the packaged goods companies to find out who these retail consumers are or to link their individual identities with their buying histories, except in some cases by using a “loyalty card” or other information- collection program. However, EdgeVerve offers a suite of services called Con- sumer Connect, a sensor-based way for retailers and consumer packaged goods

1 Bernhard Warner, “How One Retail Bank Is Using Digital Tools and Real-Time Data to Strengthen Customer Relationships [Photos],” Forbes, September 24, 2015, available at http:// time-data-to-strengthen-customer-relationships-photos/, accessed February 4, 2016; Tibco Software, Inc., “Achieving Customer Centricity in Retail Banking,” 2006, available at www– 2434 , accessed September 1, 2010. 2 Warner, “How One Retail Bank Is Using Digital Tools and Real-Time Data to Strengthen Cus- tomer Relationships [Photos]”; ducks podcast with Bernhard Warner and West- pac New Zealand’s Simon Pomeroy, “Digital Tools and Real-Time Data Are Turning Banking Upside Down in New Zealand,” September 22, 2015, available at ibmwildducks/09-how-one-retail-bank-is-using-digital-tools-and-real-time-data-to-strengthen- customer-relationships, accessed February 4, 2016; and Tony Danova, “Beacons: What They Are, How They Work and Why Apple’s iBeacon Technology Is Ahead of the Pack,” Business Insider, October 23, 2014, available at create-a-new-market-2013–12, accessed February 4, 2016.

122 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

companies all to monitor and share information about customer movement and what is bought off store display shelves by whom, in real time, if customers have given their individual permission.3 SK Telecom has also recently released Smart Shopper, an omnichannel marketing platform that allows “cartless shopping.” Upon entering the store, customers can use a special barcode scan- ner to add items to their virtual shopping cart. To check out, they confirm and pay for their purchases at a self-checkout counter, and the items will be deliv- ered to their homes at a designated date and time.4

■ Insurance companies can nearly always tell you how many policies they have written, but many still cannot tell you how many customers they have or even how many households or businesses they serve. This is changing, of course, as more and more insurance companies recognize the need to base the organiza- tion and the reward structure for policy sales on customers.5

■ A computer equipment company selling systems to other companies in a busi- ness-to-business environment may be able to identify the businesses it is selling to, but it is much more difficult for the firm to identify the individual players who actually participate in each organization’s decision to buy, and then to repurchase. Yet within any business customer it is these players—decision makers, influ- encers, specifiers, approvers, contract authorities, purchasing agents, reviewers, end users—with whom the selling company should be developing relationships. Thus, some Web-based selling and contact-management tools are now able to help keep this information in a way that’s useful to the selling company.6

3 For more about Consumer Connect and its TradeEdge technology, see EdgeVerve’s com- pany Web site at audit-tools.aspx, accessed February 4, 2016. Consumer Connect was originally released by Infosys as Shopping 360: see Infosys press release, “Infosys Technologies Launches Break- through Services for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods Companies,” Bangalore, India ( July 31, 2008), available at: breakthrough-services-retailers.aspx, accessed September 1, 2010. 4 “SK Telecom Unveils the Future of Shopping at Mobile World Congress 2015,” press release, February 25, 2015, available at, accessed February 4, 2016. 5 “Playing for Keeps: How Insurers Can Win Customers One at a Time,” PricewaterhouseCoopers, FS Viewpoint, July 2014, available at viewpoints/assets/fs-viewpoint-insurance-customer-service , accessed February 4, 2016; “Reimagining Customer Relationships: Key Findings from the EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2014,” Ernst and Young Global Limited, available at vwLUAssets/ey-2014-global-customer-insurance-survey/$FILE/ey-global-customer-insurance- survey , accessed February 4, 2016; and Nadine Gatzert, Ines Holzmuller, and Hato Schmeiser, “Creating Customer Value in Participating Life Insurance,” working papers on Risk Management and Insurance, no. 64, Institute of Insurance Economics, University of St. Gallen (January 2009). 6 Marco Nink and John H. Fleming, “B2B Companies: Do You Know Who Your Customer Is?” online Gallup Business Journal, November 22, 2014, available at businessjournal/179309/b2b-companies-know-customer.aspx, accessed February 4, 2016.$FILE/ey-global-customer-insurance-survey$FILE/ey-global-customer-insurance-survey$FILE/ey-global-customer-insurance-survey

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 123

■ Carmakers, as well as state and local governments, have for decades recorded the current owner of each registered automobile by the vehicle identification number (VIN), visible through the front window of any car. However, even though the owner of each car can be determined this way, the cars belonging to each owner cannot. More recently, carmakers have created smartphone apps that allow customers to digitally access their owner’s manual, dealership service options, and appointment reminders, and control remotely certain aspects of their car, in exchange for their contact information, car make and model, and permission to collect data from their device.7

■ Cable and media entertainment companies often have unknown customer prospects use their website. How does the company actively reengage a cus- tomer after she leaves the site if it doesn’t know who she is? Some companies are implementing customer data technology to identify that Web site visitor, determine whether she is a hot prospect, and send a follow-up e-mail specific to the interest of that individual customer.8

Identifying customers, therefore, is not usually very easy, and the degree of dif- ficulty any company faces in identifying its own customers is largely a function of its business model and its channel structure. But to engage any of its customers in rela- tionships, an enterprise needs to know these customers’ identities. Thus, it must first understand the limitations, make choices, and set priorities with respect to its need to identify individual customers. How many end-customer identities are actually known to the enterprise today? How accurate are these identities? How much duplication and overlap is there in the data? What proportion of all customer identities is known? Are there ways the enterprise could uncover a larger number of customer identities? If so, which customer identities does the enterprise want to access first?

7 Examples include the MyChevrolet app, Nissan Leaf app, and the BMW i Remote app. See Eric Holtzclaw, “How to Collect Personal Data without Angering Your Customers,” Inc., August 22, 2013, available at out-angering-your-customers.html, accessed February 4, 2016; “BMW ConnectedDrive and BMW i Remote App World Premiere: Apple Watch Controls Functions of BMW i Models,” April 24, 2014, available at connecteddrive-and-bmw-i-remote-app-world-premiere-apple-watch-controls-functions- of-bmw-i-models&outputChannelId=6&id=T0214583EN&left_menu_item=node_5238, accessed April 22, 2016; Farzad Henareh, “What Can Car Manufacturers Learn from Retailers?” MyCustomer Blog post, December 15, 2014, available at post/what-can-vehicle-manufacturers-learn-retailers/168766, accessed February 4, 2016; and Richard Barrington, “Hard Lessons from CRM Experience: Six Mistakes to Avoid,” VendorGuru white paper; available at, p. 4, accessed February 2, 2010. 8 Martha Rogers, Ph.D., Rashmi Vittal, and Tom Hoffman, “Omnichannel Identities: Connecting Marketers with Real People,” webinar by 1to1 Media and Neustar, September 24, 2015, avail- able at with-real-people, accessed February 4, 2016.

124 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

With the explosion in customer touch points, slight variations in a customer’s profi le can easily result in fragmented data about that customer. Furthermore, the data is constantly in fl ux. According to Neustar, each year,

■ 75 million Americans change phone carriers. ■ 45 million change phone numbers. ■ 40 million relocate. ■ 2.1 million legally change their names.

Meanwhile, with rising privacy rules, publicly available information on individu- als is declining, and therefore it’s harder to use public data to create and maintain a customer’s information fi le. 9

Step 1: how Much Customer Identifi cation Does a Company already have?

To assess more accurately how much customer-identifying information it already has, an enterprise should:

■ Take an inventory of all of the customer data already available in any kind of electronic format. Customer identifi cation information might be stored in sev- eral electronic places, such as the Web server, the contact center database, or the cloud storage of the mobile app program.

■ Find customer-identifying information that is “on fi le” but not electronically compiled. Data about customers that has been written down but not electronically recorded should be transferred to a computer database, if it is valuable, so that it will be accessible internally and protected from loss or unnecessary duplication.

Only after it assesses its current inventory of customer-identifying information should a company launch its own programs for gathering more. Programs designed to collect customer-identifying information might include, for instance, the purchase of the data, if it is available, from various third-party database companies; the sched- uling of an event to be attended by customers; or a contest, a frequency marketing program, or some other promotion that encourages customers to “raise their hands.”

9 Rogers, Vittal, and Hoffman, “Omnichannel Identities.”

the real Objective of Loyalty programs and Frequency Marketing plans

Frequency marketing is a tactic by which an enterprise rewards its custom- ers with points, discounts, merchandise, or other incentives, in return for the customer patronizing the enterprise on a repeated basis. Often called loyalty programs (see Chapter 2 ), frequency marketing programs can provide indispens- able tools enabling companies to identify and track customers, one customer at

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 125

a time, across different operating units or divisions, through different channels, and over long periods of time. By providing the customer with an incentive for purchasing that is linked to the customer’s previous purchases, the enterprise ensures that she has an interest in identifying herself to the company and “rais- ing her hand” whenever she deals with the company. The customer wants the incentive, and in order to get it, she must engage in activity that allows the enterprise to identify her and track her transactions, over time.

It is not absolutely necessary for a frequency marketing program to be linked to a customer ID system. Top Value stamps and S&H Green Stamps programs were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s. As a consumer, you might choose to shop at grocery stores or gas stations that gave away Green Stamps. You’d pay your bill and get a receipt and your stamps in exchange. Then you would go home and paste the stamps into the right places on the pages of the little paperback book you had been given. Six books would get you a toaster; 4,300 books would buy a fi shing boat. These giveaways were not used to identify customers; they involved no central customer database and maintained no records of individual purchase transactions. Although a trading stamps program is technically a frequency marketing program, because customers are indeed rewarded for the frequency and volume of their purchases, such an “unlinked” program with no computer database of transaction information is practically useless when it comes to aiding a com- pany in its effort to build customer relationships or improving customer expe- rience, beyond the giveaway.

The primary objective of a modern-day frequency marketing program should be to accumulate customer information by encouraging purchasers to identify themselves. For some companies—particularly those fi rms that fi nd it diffi cult to identify and track customers who nevertheless engage in frequent or repeated transactions—frequency marketing programs can perform a vital part of the “identify” task, allowing a fi rm to link the interactions and transactions of a single customer from one event to the next. Frequent-shopper programs launched by grocery chains and other retail operators are excellent examples of this kind of frequency marketing.

There is an important implication here with respect to how a program cre- ates value for the enterprise. If goods and services are simply discounted with points or prizes, and that’s the entire program, then it is a parity strategy; once competitors match the points or the rewards, the only thing the sponsoring company will end up with is reduced profi t margins. But if, say, the points are given in exchange for shopping basket data or other information about a cus- tomer that can be used to deepen the relationship, then the information derived is an investment that can generate profi ts as the company uses the data to build a more loyal relationship with a customer.


126 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

As a matter of practice, many companies implement such programs with the sole intention of rewarding customers for giving them more of their patron- age. The risk to the enterprise of doing this is that if the frequency program is a success, competitors will eventually offer customers the same or similar rewards structures for buying from them. Over time, the program will be reduced to nothing more than a sophisticated form of price competition, as in fact did happen to the S&H Green Stamps program when other stamp programs were introduced and consumers simply kept various stamps at home in separate cigar boxes.

To a customer, the incentive itself (e.g., free miles, free goods, prizes, dis- counts, upgrades, etc.) will often be the most immediate motive for participat- ing. Then it is up to the enterprise to use the information to treat the customer differently. Airline frequent-fl yer programs tier their customers into different levels—platinum, gold, silver, and so forth—and then provide special benefi ts to the highest tiers, from priority check-in lines to occasional upgrades. It is the information about an individual customer’s ongoing purchases and needs that enables the enterprise to tailor its behavior or customize its product or service for that particular customer. The greater the level of customization, the more loyal customers can become.

It is not always so easy to fi gure out how to treat different customers dif- ferently, however, even when they can be individually identifi ed and tracked. A grocery store’s frequency marketing program can return a rich detail of infor- mation about the individual shopping habits of the store’s customers, but what should the store then do with this information? Literally, of course, the store can’t rearrange the merchandise to meet the needs of any particular customer entering the store. Nevertheless, it should be possible to use the information about the mix of products consumed by a single customer in such a way as to make highly customized offers to that customer, when those offers are commu- nicated either by postal mail or through interactive technologies. Tesco, a United Kingdom–based supermarket chain, a was one of the fi rst to create a highly suc- cessful frequency marketing program that illustrates exactly what it means to make different offers to different customers (see Chapters 2 and 10).

In May 2009, Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty program boasted 16 million active card holders in the United Kingdom, b and its members’ purchases accounted for about 80 percent of all Tesco’s in-store transactions at the relaunch.

After implementing Clubcard, in-store product turnover increased more than 51 percent behind a mere 15 percent increase in fl oor space. The company cred- ited its success with the fact that it was engaged in “rifl e-shot” marketing to its customer base rather than the more traditional scatter-shot approach of the mass merchant. The Clubcard program allowed Tesco to link product information with each individual customer’s past purchases. So, for example, based on its


Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 127

individual customer data, Tesco could send a Clubcard member a personalized letter with coupons aimed squarely at that particular customer’s own shopping needs. This program generated an astonishingly high redemption rate of some 90 percent! Tesco differentiated more than 5,000 different “needs segments” among its customers and used that insight to send out highly customized offers. All members also received a mass-customized quarterly magazine.

Tesco originally defi ned eight primary “life state” customer groups, with each edition’s editorial content specifi cally written for its target group. Counting the multiplicity of third-party advertisements, Tesco’s magazines were printed and distributed in literally hundreds of thousands of combinations.

Now of course, Web-based grocery delivery services such as Fresh Direct and Peapod make it easier and easier for a regular customer to reorder online. c And the latest trend among Millennials is ordering pre-prepared ingredients from food services, which allows the easiest possible home preparation of meals. d In every individual case, the company remembers much of what works for the customer and is able to tailor suggestions to one customer at a time, going far beyond points rewards programs. Many enterprises have continued to develop this type of loyalty program with great success. A more recent approach is to enmesh the loyalty program in an improved customer experi- ence, as Starbucks has done. In 2011, Starbucks was the fi rst national retailer to incorporate mobile payment technology into its loyalty program—and in 2013 the program generated over 3 million transactions per week just in the United States. e (See Chapter 2 .)

Starbucks then combined its loyalty program with a mobile app that allows ordering and payment from a mobile phone and pickup without waiting in line. Each purchase is automatically recorded in their loyalty program. The customer benefi ts from time saved, ease of purchase, and rewards points (toward a free item), and Starbucks benefi ts from information, including data about customer’s device and its usage, and customer’s physical location. The company also, with customers’ permission, gathers information about customers from other sources like social media. The company can then get a fuller picture of each customer’s complete Starbucks experience and improve it in a way that works for both the company and the customer. f

Starbucks also added to their loyalty program rewards for purchase of Star- bucks products in other retail stores, like grocery stores. It is not as easy to report these purchases—customers must type in a code from the product package themselves after purchase—but the move to count purchases outside the com- pany’s own stores and Web site has been considered revolutionary. g Because the cost of the technology that manages loyalty programs and frequency marketing has continued to decline, smaller and smaller companies are able to build deep relationships with customers, profi tably, even if it’s only a few customers and


128 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

not millions. Zane’s Cycles, based in Branford, Connecticut, began building rela- tionships with customers by offering free annual basic bicycle maintenance in exchange for contact and user-preference information, which owner Chris Zane used to win a greater share of each cyclist’s business.

Some enterprises charge customers a membership fee to belong to a fre- quency marketing program. Car rental companies, for example, have in the past had programs that charge customers a separate membership fee to guarantee preferential treatment at airports; these programs tracked the customer’s indi- vidual transactions as well. Customers who are willing to invest money in a continuing Learning Relationship with an enterprise become committed to the collaborative solution of a problem. And any enterprise that collaborates with its customers is more likely to be able to ask the types of questions needed to achieve a higher share of a customer’s business. It is easier for the enterprise to ask questions of a customer who has agreed to enter a relationship.

The bottom line is this: Don’t skip a step. If your frequency program is only a card with points for shopping, that doesn’t give you a chance to become a customer’s preferred choice. Instead, make the program the basis of an incentive to partner with a customer for her own benefi t to learn more about what she needs and wants. Use that information to do things for her that no one else who doesn’t have that information can do. That can create the customer experience that creates customer loyalty.


f See Starbucks’ privacy policy for loyalty program at us/company-information/online-policies/privacy-policy , accessed February 4, 2016. g Bruce Horovitz, “Earn Starbucks Loyalty Points Beyond Cafes,” USA Today , March 20, 2013, available at loyalty-program/2003583/ , accessed February 4, 2016.

a See for updated corporate information; accessed February 4, 2016. b “Tesco Clubcard Signs Up One Million Customers Since Relaunch,” Marketing Magazine, May 10, 2009, available at signs-one-million-customers-relaunch/ , accessed February 4, 2016. c Tanya Dua, “Lit or Thirsty? FreshDirect’s New Food App Speaks Fluent Millennial,” Digi- day, February 2, 2016, available at , accessed February 4, 2016; Marina Mayer, “How Retailers’ Food Delivery Service Changes the Consumer Shopping Experience,” Refrigerated and Frozen Foods 25, no. 11 (November 2015): 6. d Elizabeth Segran, “The $5 Billion Battle for the American Dinner Plate,” Fast Company , October 2015, available at the-5-billion-battle-for-the-american-dinner-plate , accessed February 4, 2016. e Jim Tierney, “Loyalty Program Triggers Starbucks’ Record Q2,” Loyalty360 Daily News, April 26, 2013, record-q2 , accessed February 4, 2016.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 129

Step 2: Get Customers to Identify themselves, Making Sure to accurately Identify Customers on any Channel

Sales contests and sponsored events are often designed for the specific purpose of gathering potential and established customer names and addresses. But to engage a customer in a genuine relationship, a company must also be able to link the customer to her own specific purchase and service transaction behavior. Analyzing past behavior is probably the single most useful method for modeling a customer’s future value, as we’ll see in Chapter 5, on customer differentiation, and Chapter 12, on analytics. So although a onetime contest or promotion might help a company identify customers it did not previously “know,” linking the customer’s identity to her actual transactions is also important.

Frequency marketing programs, when they are executed strategically, suit both purposes, providing not only a mechanism to identify customers, but also a means to link customers, over time, with the specific transactions they undertake. Such pro- grams have been used for years to strengthen relationships with individual custom- ers, but it’s important to recognize that a frequency marketing program is a tactic, not a strategy. It is an important enabling step for a broader relationship strategy because a frequency marketing program provides a company with a mechanism for identifying and tracking customers individually, but this will lead to a genuine relationship-management strategy only when the company actually uses the infor- mation it gets in this way to design different treatments for different customers.

What Does Identify Mean?

Given that the purpose of identifying individual customers is to facilitate the devel- opment of relationships with them individually, we are using the word identify in its broadest possible form. What we are really saying is that an enterprise must undertake all of these identification activities:

Identification Activities ■ Define. Decide what information will comprise the actual customer’s identity: Is it name and address? Mobile phone number? E-mail address? Home phone number? Account number? Householding information?

■ Find. Our customers are out there—if we can see them properly, we can see a lot that helps us serve them better. An omnichannel approach, which includes information from every possible channel, such as call centers, Web sites, inter- active voice response (IVR) systems, instant messaging, social, and in-store interactions, is crucial.10

■ Collect. Arrange to collect these customer identities. Collection mechanisms could include frequent-shopper bar codes; credit card data; paper applications;

10 Rogers, Vittal, and Hoffman, “Omnichannel Identities.”

130 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

Web-based interactions via Web site, e-mail, blog comments, Facebook, Ins- tagram, or Twitter; radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips (such as E-ZPass and Exxon-Mobil’s Speedpass); or any number of other vehicles.

■ Link. Once a customer’s identity is fixed, it must be linked to all transactions and interactions with that customer, at all points of contact, and within all the enterprise’s different operating units and divisions. It is one thing, for instance, to identify the consumer who goes into a grocery store, but a frequent- shopper program is usually the primary mechanism to link that shopper’s activi- ties together, so that the enterprise knows it is the same shopper, every time he comes into the store or makes an online purchase.11 Also, if a customer shops online for a product but then contacts the company’s call center to order it, the relationship-oriented enterprise wants to be able to link that customer’s online interactions with her call-in order. The goal is to see each customer as one com- plete customer, and not as a series of independent events, people, or contacts.

■ Integrate. The customer’s identity must not only be linked to all interactions and transactions; it must also be integrated into the information systems the enter- prise uses to run its business. Frequent-flyer identities need to be integrated into the flight reservations data system. Household banking identities need to be integrated into the small business records maintained by the bank.

■ Recognize. The customer who returns to a different part of the organization needs to be recognized as the same customer, not a different one. In other words, the customer who visits the Web site today, goes into the store or the bank branch tomorrow, and calls the toll-free number next week needs to be recognized as the same customer, not three separate events or visitors.

■ Store. Identifying information about individual customers must be linked, stored, and maintained in one or several electronic databases.

■ Update. All customer data, including customer-identifying data, is subject to change and must be regularly verified, updated, improved, or revised.

■ Analyze. Customer identities must serve as the key inputs for analyzing indi- vidual customer differences (see Chapter 12).

■ Make available. The data on customer identities maintained in an enterprise’s databases must be made available to the people and functions within the enter- prise that need access to it. Especially in a service organization, making indi- vidual customer-identifying information available to frontline service personnel is important. Computers help enterprises codify, aggregate, filter, and sort cus- tomer information for their own and their customers’ benefit. Storing customer identification information in an accessible format is critical to the success of a customer-centered enterprise.

11 Other information collection tools, such as the wireless, sensor-based tracking systems mentioned earlier, could supplement or replace a frequent-shopper program. See EdgeVerve company Web site at audit-tools.aspx, accessed February 4, 2016.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 131

■ Secure and protect. Because individual customer identities are both competi- tively sensitive and threatening to individual customer privacy, it is critical to secure this information to prevent its unauthorized use.

Technology is enabling enterprises to identify customers in ways never before imagined. Many businesspeople still hand out business cards, but computer contact databases and sophisticated customer information cloud-based data warehousing are far more important than physical cards for the same reason that public librar- ies long ago abandoned their card catalog systems: because card catalog systems cost much more than their electronic counterparts and are available for search only in the physical library building. Sophisticated electronic data systems allow library patrons to search a library’s holdings from anywhere and help the library cut its own costs at the same time.

Integrated computer databases don’t just reduce costs. More important, they also help identify patterns that aren’t visible when the data is kept in filing systems or in separate data silos. The more the company integrates data from all corners of the enterprise, even including the extended enterprise, the richer in value the cus- tomer information becomes in planning and executing customer-focused strategies.

The end customer of an enterprise is the one who consumes the product or service it provides. That said, sometimes it is more of an indirect relationship, which makes it more difficult to tag the customer and link information to her. Sometimes, a product or service might be purchased by one customer and used by another member of the household or by the recipient of a gift. And as we discuss later, sometimes an end user will be an employee of a company while it is the company’s purchasing department that actually buys the product. Regardless of these interme- diary relationships, however, it is the end user who is at the top of the food chain and the end user whose relationship with the enterprise is most important, because this is the person whose needs will or won’t be met by the product.

Customer Identification in a B2B Setting

A business-to-business (B2B) enterprise still must identify customers, and many of the issues are the same, but there are some important differences that merit addi- tional consideration. For instance, when selling to business customers, the B2B enterprise must consider who will be on the other side of the relationship. Will it be the purchasing manager or the executive who signs the purchase order? Will it be the financial vice president who approved the contract? Or will it be the produc- tion supervisor or line engineer who actually uses the product? The correct way for an enterprise to approach a B2B scenario is to think of each of these individuals as a part of the customer base. Each is important in his or her own way, and each one should be identified and tracked. The greatest challenge for many businesses that sell to other businesses is identifying the product’s end users. Discovering who, within the corporate customer’s organization, puts a product to work (i.e., who

132 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

depends on the product to do her job) is often quite difficult. Some methods for identifying end users include12:

■ If the product consumes any replenishable supplies (e.g., inks, drill bits, record- ing paper, chemicals), providing a convenient method for reordering these sup- plies is an obvious service for end users.

■ If the product is complicated to use, requiring a detailed online instruction manual or perhaps different sets of application notes or even training, one way to secure end-user identities is to offer such instructions in a simplified format, tailored to all devices.

■ If the product needs periodic maintenance or calibration or regular service for any reason, the enterprise can use these occasions to identify end users.

B2B firms use many strategies to get to know the various role players within the corporations they are selling to, from end users to chief financial officers—setting up personal meetings, participating at trade shows, swapping business cards, sponsoring seminars and other events, inviting people to work-related entertainment occasions, and so forth. But the single most important method for identifying the “relationships within relationships” at an enterprise customer is to provide a service or a benefit for the customer that can really be fully realized only when the players themselves reveal their identities and participate actively in the relationship. Thus, even though relationship marketing has always been a standard tool in the B2B space, today’s new technologies are making it possible more than ever before to manage the actual mechanics of these individual relationships from the enterprise level. In so doing, the enterprise ensures that the relationship itself adheres to the enterprise, not just to the sales representative or other employee conducting the activity.

Customer Identification in a B2C Setting: Unify Omnichannel Marketing programs

Can we identify—and recognize again and again—millions of customers? In the business-to-consumer (B2C) space, the technology-driven customer relationship management (CRM) movement has only recently made it possible even to con- ceive of the possibility of managing individual consumer relationships. But while managing relationships within the B2C space might be a relatively new idea, mass marketers have always understood that customer information is critical and that the possible ways of identifying customers are nearly limitless.

Certain technologies have made it possible to identify customers without their active involvement. ExxonMobil, the gasoline retailer, dispenses RFID microchips that can be carried around on the keychain of a customer who participates in its

12 Nink and Fleming, “B2B Companies”; Don Peppers, Martha Rogers, Ph.D., and Bob Dorf, The One to One Fieldbook: The Complete Toolkit for Implementing a 1to1 Marketing Program (New York: Doubleday, 1999).

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 133

Speedpass campaign. When the customer drives up to a gas pump, the microchip device automatically identifies the customer and charges the customer’s credit card for the transaction. The customer is rewarded with a speedier exit from the gas pump (although she still must pump her own gas). The company, in turn, can iden- tify each customer every time she buys gas at any ExxonMobil station and link that identification with every transaction.

Of course, few would deny that the Internet gave the biggest push to the cus- tomer relationship movement in the B2C arena. Not only did the World Wide Web provide tools to existing firms with which they could interact more effectively with their customers and identify an increasing number of them individually, but it also led to the creation of many new, Internet-based businesses with extremely stream- lined business models based on direct, one-to-one relationships with individual customers, online.

Writer Stewart Alsop described the way led the way at the turn of the new century:

What has done [in 2001] is invent and implement a model for interacting with millions of customers, one at a time. Old-line companies can’t do that—I like Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, Starbucks, and Shell, but they have to reach out to me with mass advertising and marketing. Amazon’s technology gives me exactly what I want, in an extraordinarily responsive way. The under- lying technology, in fact, is revolutionizing the way companies do business on the Web.13

Customer Data revolution

Clearly, in the Information Age, an enter- prise can reach and communicate with indi- vidual customers one at a time, it can observe as customers talk to each other about the company, and it can follow strategies for its customer interactions that are based on rel-

evant, customer-specific information stored in a customer database. The computer can now store millions of customer records—not just names and addresses, but age, gender, marital status and family configuration, buying habits, history, devices, and demographic and psychographic profiles. Individuals can be selected from this database by one, two, three, or more of their identifying characteristics. CRM expert

13 Back in 2001, Fortune columnist Stewart Alsop rightly pegged not only as a technology company when most relegated it to the more mundane role of e-tailer but as one of the few companies that had “mastered the use of technology in serving individual custom- ers.” Stewart Alsop, “I’m Betting on Amazon,” Fortune, April 30, 2001, 48.

The computer has brought about “three awesome powers”: the power

to record, the power to find, and the power to compare.

—Stan Rapp

134 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

Stan Rapp has said that the computer has brought about “three awesome powers”: the power to record, the power to find, and the power to compare.14

■ The computer’s power to record. In precomputer days, there would have been no point in recording by typewriter dozens of bits of information about each customer or prospect on thousands of index cards. Without the computer, there would have been no practical way to make use of such information. As com- puter data storage rapidly became more economical, however, it became pos- sible and desirable to build up and use a prospect or customer record with great detail.

■ The computer’s power to find. Selections can be made from the prospect or cus- tomer file by any field definitions or combination of field definitions.

■ The computer’s power to compare. Information on customers with one set of characteristics can be compared to customer information using a different set of characteristics. For instance, the computer can compare a list of older people and a list of golfers.

For all its power, however, the truth is that when it comes to customer-oriented activities, the computer is an underutilized technology at most businesses—not because companies don’t want to use it but because most customer data are simply not fit for use in an analytical database. The development of a database of customer information requires a data model—the tool required to bring data complexities under control. The data model defines the structure of the database and lays out a map for how information about customers will be organized and deployed.

What Data Do We Need When We Identify a Customer?

After it has mined its existing customer databases and developed a plan to gather new customer information, the enterprise then decides how to tag its customers’ individual identities. Names are not always a sufficient customer identifier. More than one customer might have the same name, or a customer might use several different varieties of the same name—middle initial, nickname, maiden name, and so forth. To use a customer database effectively, therefore, it is usually necessary to assign unique and reliable customer numbers or identifiers to each individual customer record. It could be the customer’s e-mail address, phone number, a “user name” selected by the customer, or an internally generated identifier.

14 Stan Rapp, The Great Marketing Turnaround (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990). And see his book, co-authored with Sebastian Jespersen, Entangling Brand and Consumer (forthcoming); excerpt published as Stan Rapp and Sebastian Jespersen, “Entangling Brand and Consumer: Go Beyond Mere Engagement to Forge Enduring Ties with Customers,” Advertising Age, October 12, 2015, available at 151012/?pm=2&u1=friend&pg=32#pg32, accessed February 4, 2016.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 135

In addition to transaction details, other types of data generated from internal operations can make significant contributions. Information relating to billing and account status, customer service interactions, back orders, product shipment, prod- uct returns, claims history, and internal operating costs all can significantly affect an enterprise’s understanding of its customers. Directly supplied data consists of data obtained directly from customers, prospects, or suspects. It is generally captured from lead-generation questionnaires, customer surveys, warranty registrations, customer service interactions, Web site responses, or other direct interactions with individuals.

Directly supplied data consists of three obvious types:

1. Behavioral data, such as purchase and buying habits, clickstream data gleaned from the way a firm’s Web site visitor clicks through the firm’s Web site, interactions with the company, communication channels chosen, language used, product consumption, and company share of wallet.

2. Attitudinal data, reflecting attitudes about products, such as satisfaction lev- els, perceived competitive positioning, desired features, and unmet needs as well as lifestyles, brand preferences, social and personal values, opinions, and the like.

3. Demographic (i.e., “descriptive”) data, such as age, income, education level, marital status, household composition, gender, home ownership, and so on.

In categorizing data contained in a customer database, it’s important to recognize that some data—stable data, such as birth date or gender—will need to be gathered only once. Once verified for accuracy, these data can survive in a database over long periods and many programs. Updates of stable data should be undertaken to correct errors, but, except for errors, stable data won’t need much alteration. In contrast, there are other data—adaptive data, such as a person’s intended purchases or even her feelings about a particular political candidate—that will need constant updating and cleansing. This is not a binary classification, of course. In reality, some data are relatively more stable or adaptive than other data. And part of the challenge comes from the fact that customers relate at different times to different parts of the organization: Web site (online marketing), bill paying (accounting), in-house (e.g., store management).

Why Is Identification Important?

Ultimately, of course, the central purpose of collecting customer information is to enable the development of closer, more profitable relationships with individual cus- tomers by creating consistently better experiences for each of them. In many cases, these relationships will be facilitated by the availability to the enterprise of information that will make the customer’s next transaction simpler, faster, or cheaper. Remember- ing a customer’s logistical information, for instance, will make reordering easier for her, and therefore more likely. Remembering this type of information will also lead the customer to believe she is important to the company and that her patronage is valued.

136 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

Additionally, it’s important to “identify” customers to reduce the waste in serv- ing them. For example, one data cleansing company helped a Fortune 500 con- sumer electronics firm match unidentified callers in real time with existing customer data, including additional data that could be appended to the current interaction, enabling 54 percent of unidentified callers to be identified in real time, saving $13.8 million in additional data work, and increasing customer satisfaction through better experiences.15 Some companies are also now able to identify callers in the first few seconds of a call through voice or speech recognition.16

In order to make any of this work, however, it is essential for the enterprise to establish a trusting relationship with the customer, so she feels free to share informa- tion. A vocal privacy-protection movement—perhaps more active in Europe than in North America—has been energized by the increasing role that individual informa- tion plays in ordinary commerce and the perceived threat to individual privacy that this poses. However, both practical experience and a number of academic studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers are not at all reluctant to share their individual information when there is a clear value proposition for doing so and when they trust the company. Therefore, if a company can demonstrate to the customer that individual information will be used to deliver tangible benefits (and provided the customer trusts the enterprise to hold the information reasonably confidential beyond that), then the customer is usually more than willing to allow use of the information. Trusting relationships or not, protecting customer privacy and ensuring the safety and security of customer-specific information are critical issues in the implementation of customer strategies and will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 9.

Integrating Data to Identify Customers

The process of identifying customers in order to engage them in relationships requires that customer-identifying information be integrated into many different aspects of an enterprise’s business activities. It used to be that customer data could be collected over a period of time, and the customer database would be updated with revised profile and analytic information in batches. On weekends, perhaps, or late at night, information collected since the last update would be used to update the customer database. Increasingly, however, companies rely on Web sites and call centers to interact with customers, and this places a much greater emphasis on ensuring real-time access to customer-identifying information.

Enterprises must be able to capture customer information and organize it, aggre- gate it, integrate it, and disseminate it to any individual or group, throughout the enterprise, in real time. Technology is enabling enterprises to accelerate the flow of customer information at the most strategically timed moment. Enterprises strive for

15 Rogers, Vittal, and Hoffman, “Omnichannel Identities.” 16 One example is “Real-Time Authentication” by NICE Systems, a bio-based software tool that identifies (authenticates) a caller, once she has given her name, through highly accurate individual voice recognition.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 137

zero latency—that is, no lag time required—for the flow of information from cus- tomer to database to decision maker (or to a rules-based decision-making “engine”). The computer-driven processes of data mining, collaborative filtering, and predictive modeling will increasingly alter the process of forecasting how consumers behave and what they want,17 and, as more and more real-time interactivity continues to permeate all aspects of our lives, we can expect customers to demand more and more real-time service, which means enterprises will need real-time access to customer data.

In any service context, it is critical that an enterprise’s customer-facing people have ready access to customer-identifying data as well as to the records attached to particular customer identities. Making valuable customer information available to front-line, customer-facing employees, whether they work on board a passenger airliner, behind the counter at a retail bank branch, or at the call center for an auto- mobile manufacturer, is an increasingly important task at all B2C enterprises.

Westpac New Zealand Bank, for example, uses a device-neutral platform to pro- vide real-time data from all channels to both customers and employees. To assemble that customer profile, Westpac must identify customers at all digital and physical branches, and over all departments and 120 services. Earlier in the chapter, we described how the bank uses both traditional methods, such as account numbers, caller ID, ATM cards, as well as cutting-edge ID technologies, such as beacons that identify through smartphones and biometrics that can identify with a fingerprint. Because employees have real-time access to all customer interactions in every cat- egory and real-time financial analytics, they can pick up the “conversation” with an individual customer wherever it last left off and anticipate needs—to be proactive in relationships with customers rather than just reactive.

Chief Digital Officer Simon Pomeroy says automating the high-volume, low- value transactions through digital banking, combined with the real-time customer information and analytics, has allowed his employees to spend time on learning about customers and establishing relationships. Statistics bear this out. Interactions with customers are up from having conversations with 40 percent of customers in 2012, most of which were reactive, to interacting with 92 percent of customers in 2014, many of which were proactive.18

17 Dolores Romero Morales and Jingbo Wang, “Forecasting Cancellation Rates for Services Booking Revenue Management Using Data Mining,” European Journal of Operational Research 202, no. 2 (April 2010): 554–562; Heung-Nam Kim et al., “Collaborative Filtering Based on Collaborative Tagging for Enhancing the Quality of Customer Recommendation,” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications 9, no. 1 ( January–February 2010): 73–83; Rodolfo Ledesma, “Predictive Modeling of Enrollment Yield for a Small Private College,” Atlantic Economic Journal 37, no. 3 (September 2009): 323. 18 ducks podcast with Bernhard Warner and Westpac New Zealand’s Simon Pomeroy, “Digital Tools and Real-Time Data Are Turning Banking Upside Down in New Zealand,” September 22, 2015, available at one-retail-bank-is-using-digital-tools-and-real-time-data-to-strengthen-customer-relationships, accessed February 4, 2016.

138 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences

the role of the “Internet of things” and Smart products in Managing relationships with Customers

Professor Rashi Glazer clarifi es the implications of an enterprise-wide view of the customer—what several authorities have called “one view of the truth” and others have called the “360-degree view of the customer.” Professor Glazer has pointed out that “perhaps the most important implication of the Information Age for business is the emergence of information-intensive or smart markets—that is, markets defi ned by frequent turnovers in the general stock of knowledge or information embodied in products and services and possessed by fi rms and consumers. In contrast to traditional “dumb” markets—which are static, fi xed, and basically information-poor—smart markets are dynamic, turbulent, and information-rich.

He continues: “Smart markets are based on smart products, those product and service offerings that have intelligence or computational capability built into them and therefore can adapt or respond to changes in the environment as they interact with customers. Smart markets are also characterized by smart consumers, consumers who, from the standpoint of the fi rm, are continually ‘speaking’ (i.e., they are not mute, or ‘dumb’) and, in so doing, educate or teach the fi rm about who they are and what they want. In such an environ- ment, competition is less about who has the best products and more about which fi rm can spend the most time interacting with—and therefore learning from—its customers.

“A major implication of information-intensive, or smart, markets is the wide- spread breaking down of boundaries where there once were well-defi ned roles or discrete categories:

■ Boundaries between products are breaking down (in particular, the bound- ary between products and services).

■ Within the fi rm, boundaries between departments are breaking down, as no department or area has all the information necessary (and the fl ow of infor- mation between departments is not fast enough) to respond to customer requests before the competition does.

■ Most signifi cantly, the boundaries between the fi rm and the external world are breaking down: between the fi rm and its competitors, as fi rms realize they need to partner in order to put in place the infrastructure issues nec- essary for the sale of their own products; and, of course, between the fi rm and its customers, as customers participate or collaborate in the design and delivery of their own products, and as communications become more inter- active and two-way—never mind the increase in interconnectivity among customers.

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 139


The fi rst task to accomplish in building relationships with a customer is to recognize each one at every point of contact, across all products purchased or locations con- tacted, through every communication channel, over time, and link the information so that one view of each customer is established. Doing this requires knowing the identity of each customer at every contact point in the organization.

Food for thought

1. Describe and name two companies you have done business with as a customer. 2. One of them treats you as if you are a new customer every time you show up,

or at least any time you show up anywhere you haven’t done business with the company before. At the other company, you are recognized as you, every time you have any dealings with the company. What’s the effect on you of these disparate approaches? How would you guess each company manages its data, given their different approaches to customers?

3. How can a company identify customers when those customers don’t talk to its representatives very often, if at all—at least not individually? (Consider a pet food manufacturer that sells to retailers, not directly to consumers. Or a conve- nience store that operates on a cash basis. Or a fast-food chain. Or a business- to-business company that doesn’t have a human sales force.)

What will encourage customers to “raise their hands” and agree to be identi- fi ed and recognized?

The organizing ‘tool,’ or asset, on which the full range of information-intensive strategies is based is the customer information fi le (CIF), a single virtual data- base that captures all relevant information about a fi rm’s customers. The data- base is described as ‘virtual’ because, while operating as if it were an integrated single source housed in one location, it may in reality comprise several isolated databases stored in separate places throughout an organization.” 19

19 Rashi Glazer is retired professor and codirector of the Management of Technology Program, Walter A. Hass School of Business, University of California at Berkeley. From Rashi Glazer, “Role of Smart Markets in Managing Relationships with Customers,” in Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., Managing Customer Relationships: A Strategic Framewor k , 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011). See also Rashi Glazer’s “Meta-Technologies and Innovation Leadership: Why There May Be Nothing New Under the Sun,” California Manage- ment Review 50 (Fall 2007): 120–143; and “Winning in Smart Markets,” Sloan Management Review 40 (Summer 1999): 59–69.

140 IDIC process: a Framework for Managing Customer relationships and experiences


Attitudinal data Directly supplied data that reflect attitudes about products, such as satisfaction levels, perceived competitive positioning, desired features, and unmet needs as well as lifestyles, brand preferences, social and personal values, and opin- ions.

Behavioral data Directly supplied data that include purchase and buying habits, clickstream data, interactions with the company, communication channels chosen, language used, product consumption, company share of wallet, and so on.

Business model How a company builds economic value.

Customer relationship management (CRM) As a term, CRM can refer either to the activities and processes a company must engage in to manage individual relationships with its customers (as explored extensively in this textbook), or to the suite of software, data, and analytics tools required to carry out those activities and processes more cost efficiently.

Customer service Customer service involves helping a customer gain the full use and advantage of whatever product or service was bought. When something goes wrong with a product, or when a customer has some kind of problem with it, the process of helping the customer overcome this problem is often referred to as “customer care.”

Customize Become relevant by doing something for a customer that no competi- tion can do that doesn’t have all the information about that customer that you do.

Data warehousing A process that captures, stores, and analyzes a single view of enterprise data to gain business insight for improved decision making.

Demographic data Directly supplied data that include age, income, education level, marital status, household composition, gender, home ownership, and so on.

Differentiate Prioritize by value; understand different needs. Identify, recognize, link, remember.

Enterprise customer A business that buys goods and services from a business- to-business (B2B) vendor, characterized by complex “relationships within relation- ships” often involving specifiers, approvers, reviewers, and other individuals within the customer organization who all have varying roles and degrees of influence over the purchasing decision.

Identify (see also Recognize) Recognize and remember each customer regard- less of the channel by or geographic area in which the customer leaves information about himself. Be able to link information about each customer to generate a com- plete picture of each customer.

Information Age “A period in human history characterized by the shift from tra- ditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization.” [Wikipedia]

Chapter 4: Identifying Customers 141

Internet of Things (IoT) A term describing the network of products and other objects that have intelligence or computational capability built into them, along with interconnectedness to the Web, via Wi-Fi or other technology. As defined by the ITU, a UN agency, the IoT is “a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies” (http://, accessed April 6, 2016).

Omnichannel marketing A marketing buzzword referring to the capability of interacting and transacting with customers in any or all channels, in order to ensure that every interaction takes place in the channel of the customer’s own choice.

Recognize (see also Identify) The ability to identify an individual customer as that customer through any shopping or buying channel, within any product pur- chase category, across locations or geographies, and over time. These individual data points are linked for a universally recognized, or identified, customer.

Zero latency No lag time required for the flow of information from customer, to database, to decision maker (or to a rules-based decision-making engine).

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