The power of customer data

Mark Hagger, strategic consultant, Equifax

An organisation’s customer database is, without a doubt, one of its greatest assets. However, it can also be easily neglected or undermined, and there are some businesses that simply do not understand the value or importance it can hold, other than customers’ names and addresses. This is a real oversight because the deeper information a database contains can really help identify valuable insights about individuals and their households.

As long as it’s carefully maintained, enhanced and built upon, businesses can harness the power of their database to help inform strategies and drive success. The intelligence it holds on customers can give them deep insights into various aspects of their individual situations.
A customer database is the lifeblood of many businesses, particularly in sectors where the relationship with a customer can have longevity and where various different packages, products and services can be offered throughout the customer journey.

Consumers receive a huge amount of marketing: online, by email, mobile, post, on the radio, TV… the list goes on. In among this constant “noise”, it’s essential that your campaigns are as targeted and personalised as possible. Non-personalised mass marketing risks being seen as irrelevant by the consumer or, at the least, very bland.

Best practice in a modern marketing world is to avoid one-size-fits-all marketing approaches wherever possible. By understanding who a customer is, where they live, the composition of the household, their marital status, who they live with and if they have children, etc, you can better target your efforts and campaigns on products and services that are more likely to be of interest to them. The better you understand your customers, the better you are able to engage with them.

Asking the right questions

Let’s put this into context using an example.

Jim Smith wouldn’t tread on Lego every morning, book holidays with kids clubs, have ISOFIX connectors in his family car, subscribe to the Disney channel or purchase anything from Smiggle or Claire’s Accessories if he didn’t have any children. These purchasing decisions are based on them.  Jim is motivated by their wants and needs.

His mobile phone provider is likely to have some information on him; the tariff he is on, the phone he has, his monthly payment method and spend. It is, however, unlikely that the provider would have asked him to complete a customer survey to obtain more information about him, as this tends to be time-consuming. So, they will have limited information about Jim.

Jim’s mobile phone provider also offers broadband, landline packages and television services. To be able to offer or to decide which, if any, of these services Jim might be interested in, here are some questions a business needs to ask about its individual customers, and the answers received should then help shape customer strategies.


Who are the primary decision makers when it comes to products and services?

Jim is married. He and his wife are the male and female heads of house. This means that they are likely to make the purchasing decisions for the household for different services.

Is the property rented or owned/mortgaged?
Jim owns his house with a mortgage - he doesn’t rent, so a landlord is not paying for the internet or TV services, as is sometimes the case with rented properties. So, we know that paying for these services is a decision Jim and his wife have made, taking the needs of their children into consideration too.

What and Why?

What TV channels are watched in the household?

Jim has young children who like watching certain TV channels and movies. These could be predicted based on their age and gender in accordance with the TV channels/programmes target markets. The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and CBeebies are all prime examples that might appeal to this specific demographic.

Why do they watch these channels?

The composition of Jim’s home would be classed as a family household, which means a family package for mobile phones, broadband or TV could be a compelling product.


How does a marketer understand this household and what to offer to it?

Understanding the gender and age of the members of Jim’s household can easily be used to specifically promote the services likely to be of most interest to him and his family, eg, a movie promotion with a Disney princess cover sent as a direct mail piece would not go unrecognised by his daughter.

Sending a quad play offer, combining broadband, TV and multiple phones, could save him money, perhaps with additional mobiles bundled in for family members.

At Equifax, we understand that your ultimate objective is to maintain and/or increase your customer retention rates, reduce churn, improve customer segments and, in turn, your customers’ overall experience, to promote and increase product take-up rates as well as support product or proposition development. The way we see it, additional insights and increased understanding of your customers bring additional opportunities.

If this information is not available as an internal resource, or this kind of expertise is not available within your organisation, you need to establish partnerships with organisations that can help you deepen your customer insights and improve the results of your marketing campaigns. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you get to know your customers better, get in touch.

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