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Customer Segmentation in the Big Data Age: Where Banks Find Value

Customer segmentation helps banks get to know their customers on a more granular level. Segmentation reveals specific intelligence that could otherwise be obscured by the sheer volume of data. These insights, in turn, inform messaging strategies for marketing and customer service strategies. Segmentation can also help banks better understand the customer lifecycle and predict customer behavior.

Examples of common customer segmentation criteria:
  • Customer value – How many products & services customers purchase and what kind of revenue that generates for the bank – past, current, and predicted for the future
  • Demographics – Age, geography, gender, generation (e.g. Millennials and Baby Boomers), income level, marital status, and other “vital statistics”
  • Life stage – Slightly different from age, focused instead on customers’ journeys through various milestones and markers; for example, graduating college or starting a family
  • Attitude – Customers’ subjective stances on things like the financial industry as a whole, online and mobile banking, the economy, and their satisfaction with their bank
  • Behavior – Interactions and transactions between customers and their bank, which channels they use and how often, and which products they adopt

Similar criteria can be applied to banks’ business customers – profitability, number of employees, “life” stage (start-up, established, legacy), and so forth.

These are the traditional ways that customers have been segmented for decades. However, relying just on these categories is not going to yield many actionable insights.

In the age of Big Data, you sometimes have to think small. The real power of segmentation is not the quantity of data you can collect – which, with today’s technology and methods, is virtually infinite. It’s in the ability to drill down to the information that actually teaches you something about your customers.

Often it’s not the segments themselves, but where they overlap, where you’ll find the most valuable intelligence.

customer segmentationSome examples: unmarried, home-owning, degree-holding women under 45; middle-income married parents of high-school-age children in a particular school district; and minority Millennials who are starting their own digitally driven businesses.  Any of these micro-segments may prove valuable customer niches for banks to prioritize. But first, you have to conceive of their existence. Second, ask the right questions. And third, conduct the relevant research to answer those questions.

To understand how this can come in handy for banks, just think about the sometimes bizarre categories that show up in your Netflix queue based on what you’ve been watching lately. Vintage sci-fi with a strong female lead? Critically acclaimed British nature documentaries? Criminal investigation murder mysteries based on books? The more they know your tastes, the more likely you are to keep using their service based on their recommendations.

The options for how segments can overlap are nearly limitless.

Nearly. There is a bell curve to the usefulness of segmentation. Too broad, and the results are less than insightful. Too narrow, and the value of the insights gained will have minimal bottom-line impact.

This is where it helps to have experienced data scientists on your side. The purpose and advantages of segmentation are easy to enough to grasp, but the farther you get into analytic methodology, the more highly technical it becomes, and the more you need to understand about mathematical models and formulas. If things like our guide to data visualization make your eyes glaze over, chances are that the nuances of segmentation will put you right to sleep, too.

But you’re in luck, because CSP’s customer experience & research experts are passionate about getting you the insights you need out of the wealth of data we can gather. So if you are interested in getting to know your customers down to the niche level that segmentation empowers, give John Berigan a call at (800) 841-7954 ext. 101 or contact us by email to start a conversation.


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