One area our peers in the information management industry often overlook is profile and preference content. Essentially, profiles and preferences are the amalgamation of user-supplied and system-generated data that is used in the management of electronic communications between a supplier and its customers. For example, when I create a log-on to my insurance carrier’s portal so I can pay bills, check the status of a claim, etc., I’m asked how I would prefer to be communicated with. Do I want email notifications in text or HTML, am I interested in marketing offers or new bulletins, etc. The information I provide then populates my profiles and preferences.
More often than not, the profile and preference data is then fed into a database and used with various event triggers – again, payment due, claim paid, etc. But what about the less structured content – perhaps the last search I submitted, the web pages I viewed while on the carrier’s portal? Where does all that “stuff” go?
I would argue that managing all of this customer-centric content is a prerequisite for providing truly customer-centric customer service.
Recently, we’ve seen a wave of clients trying to figure out their profile and preference strategies. Clearly this is a great example of the blurring between structured data and unstructured content. And all of the same challenges apply: how to get access, where to archive – across a multitude of different systems. And it requires collaboration across multiple disciplines, on the part of the team working on the master data management project, or the unified customer warehouse, or whatever your firm calls the effort. The resulting integration of structured data and unstructured content can be powerful.
But projects like these also expose how much work still needs to be done. Ever visit the web site of a financial services provider you’re a customer of, and been impressed with the level of data available, the degree of personalization, the interactive tools – only to click on a form you have to fill out to complete a transaction and discover it’s a static PDF that you can’t fill out online? Yep, that’s right: Send the PDF to the printer, get out your pen, fill out the form, stick the document in an envelope, then find a stamp and stick it in the nearest mailbox, and the nice people at your financial services provider will then scan and index the document you’ve worked so hard to “transmit” to them.
Well, why couldn’t the most basic profile information be pre-populated? And if I do want a consultation in person (because I have indicated that is my preference), why couldn’t a map be included for the nearest branch? Lots of opportunity here!
So put it on your list. Don’t forget to consider customer-centric profile and preference content in your information management agenda for 2011.
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