While visiting a banking client recently, I joined a discussion between the customer relationship management (CRM) team and branch managers. One manager described a customer who used several services: credit cards, checking and loans. This customer carefully balanced his checking account and was never late with a payment on his auto loan. His credit card was another matter entirely, with consistently late payments. "It was as if a different person was managing the card," the frustrated manager observed. In fact, the contrast was enough for the bank to investigate potential fraud. They found that the customer was carefully avoiding bouncing checks or repossessions but had a casual disdain for credit card debt. The manager described him as a "Jekyll and Hyde" customer. Other managers had similar tales of customers with highly divergent behavior when dealing with the bank in different ways.

Master data technologies such as customer data integration (CDI) typically focus on the need to identify the checking, loan and card customer as one person. Operational systems should use the same names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and any other shared data. Yet in this case, the branch manager was also right. In a sense, a different customer was using the card. This credit card customer had different preferences, different habits and posed different risks and advantages to the bank compared to the checking customer. Any business addressing, targeting or classifying him would do well to consider these differences.

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