Companies Find Gold in Identity Resolution

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“The contact center has to be the steward of the data,” Tripp says. “They have to rely on feedback to correct data over time. They have to have the power to manually override [the golden record] to make change requests [i.e., when a person’s information changes].”

If an email bounces back or a phone call doesn’t go through, the contact center should reach out via another channel that has worked in the past to rectify any discrepancies, says Dharma Rajagopalan, general manager of omnichannel communications at Conduent, a business process services company.


A good way for companies to collect the information they need is to offer specialized content or some other premium for the data, Rutchik says, though he cautions that companies must be very clear about how they will use any data and offer customers simple ways to opt out. “Those who are ambiguous are doing it wrong,” he states emphatically.

“Ensure consent; don’t take third-party data and mix it with personally identifiable information and marry them in sending out an email,” Tripp says. “You need to have explicit consent.”

Consent rules have become more stringent in the past year with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect. That regulation requires organizations to take steps to protect customer data, to provide consumers with access to their personal data, to correct any inaccuracies, and to delete that data upon request. To comply, organizations will need to know where all of their data resides and be able to access it quickly.

Under the GDPR, transferring personal data requires explicit consent from the consumer with “a statement or a clear affirmative action,” so implied consent and the ability to opt out are no longer sufficient.

While the GDPR only applies to businesses with customers in European Union countries, other laws are emerging. Next year, for example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will go into effect, requiring companies with customers in that state to follow the same rules as outlined in the GDPR. Other states are likely to follow with similar legislation of their own. (For more on all of this, see “GDPR: A Year Later,” in CRM’s May issue.)

In addition to consent, companies should also ask customers for their preferred methods of communications and communicate with them through those methods, unless an issue, such as an undeliverable email, occurs. It’s also important to have backup communication methods, Rajagopalan says. “This is where omnichannel is important.”

Another major challenge when using identity resolution is ensuring that very sensitive information, like credit card numbers, health records, or Social Security numbers, do not fall into the wrong hands. And the wrong hands might not necessarily mean would-be identity thieves.

Simply put, not all data is good for everyone to have. While a lender might need a person’s credit history and Social Security number, a consumer goods marketing department typically needs none of that, though it might want some background on a customer’s payment history or income level before making offers for high-end luxury items.

“Some companies are collecting too much data,” Digital Envoy’s Friedman says, echoing the sentiment of many.

“Be cognizant of the data that you are collecting,” adds Brian Clayton, Conduent’s chief compliance officer. “Everyone wants Big Data. But there’s data that you don’t need, or that you don’t need anymore.”

As an example, he notes that companies might need some information as it relates to product warranties. That information ought to be deleted from the customer record once the warranty expires, unless the company offers some type of warranty extension plan.

Clayton also points out that although some data management software can automatically delete certain data at preset intervals, it’s far easier to avoid collecting unneeded data altogether than it is to parse and delete data when it is no longer needed.

“Don’t collect data for data’s sake,” McCulloch adds. “Data is only useful if you are going to make decisions based on it.”

And there are certainly a lot of decisions to be made. Proper identity resolution can ultimately lead to greater nuance in understanding customer preferences and a vastly improved ability to deliver more personalized interactions. Customers—especially more frequent and loyal ones—like to be recognized when appropriate, and identity resolution helps companies do that with greater regularity. It’s especially vital in a marketplace where personalization is the key to success. 

Phillip Britt is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. He can be reached at spenterprises@wowway.com.

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