Q&A with Richard Char, Global Head of Information Services, Global Enterprise Payments, Citi

Our Forum for Marketing Leadership Professionals in Los Angeles is just a few weeks away, and in preparation I’ve been talking with our industry keynoters about their sessions. Last week I had a chance to catch up with Richard Char, Global Head of Information Services, Global Enterprise Payments at Citi, in advance of his keynote at the event. We talked about how Citi is using customer data to market to customers at the right time, with the right messaging for connecting in the moment. Here are some of Richard’s thoughts.

Q: How is Citi using data to build a view of customers in a specific context?

A: In our soon-to-be-released digital wallet application, offers will be selected for each customer (who has opted in) depending on the customer’s indicated preferences and based on predicted relevancy of the offer. We use past transaction data and the customer’s prior interaction with offers in the digital wallet, as well as the customer’s current location and context (time of day, day of week, current weather, etc.), to select the next offer which will have the greatest predicted relevancy for the customer.

Q: Why should brands and merchants work with an intermediary like Citi for targeted promotions?

A: With respect to our soon-to-be-released digital wallet application, there are three reasons local merchants are working with Citi:  

First, brands and merchants typically know their existing customers. Good for loyalty; bad for new customer acquisition. To acquire new customers, brands and merchants have to look beyond their own database. 

Second, to be most relevant, our mobile offers program starts with the individual customer. Who is the customer, where are they now, what are they doing? The customer comes first; the right offer follows. If a brand or merchant begins only with offers and looks for customers to deliver their offers, the customer experience will be inferior. By participating in our mobile program with curated offers from multiple merchants, merchants are assured that their offer is only delivered when it has very high contextual relevancy and is being delivered to a receptive consumer.  

Third, our targeted offers program is nimble. Merchants can upload, configure, or change offers online, and offers go live in minutes. Merchants can restrict offers to a subset of locations or time windows, and delivery is based on merchants’ sales goals and offer presentment of conditions they set. Merchants receive real-time reporting on offers delivered and redeemed, enabling them to assess effectiveness and ROI of campaigns. Most brands and merchants don’t have the ability to do this on their own and must rely on a provider who does.

Q: How do you ensure that customers view your personalized services as helpful rather than creepy?

A: Our digital wallet program requires customer opt-in. We protect our customers’ information from third parties. We work to ensure that our mobile offers are highly relevant and tailored to the customer, while not revealing customer information. Finally, our mobile offer platform exercises marketing restraint – often the best offer is no offer.

Hear more from Citi’s Richard Char next month at Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders, April 18-19 in LA.