FAIRFAX, Va. - You are probably aware that many companies track your spending habits, but did you know that some use that data to create a ranking for you?
It can be used to determine how much you pay, the promotions and perks you receive and even how long you wait on hold with customer service.
Anyone in the marketing field will tell you these ratings are known as the customer lifetime value or CLV.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, you are likely being assigned a secret CLV score by all sorts of companies and it's not just retailers. Airlines, auto dealers, your wireless carrier, banks and credit card companies are just some that are rating you.
Along with shopping tendencies, some also base your CLV on data such as your age, zip code, marital status and details on your social media profiles.
Analytics firm Optimove gave this example: A single 22-year-old man with a high school diploma who shops rarely and returns often is likely labeled as not worth the time to market to and companies don't need to be in a hurry to answer his messages.
On the other end of the spectrum, a 41-year-old married woman with a graduate degree who shops regularly and often pays full price for items will likely be labeled as a preferred customer who should be sent VIP invites and have her complaints answered first.
“If you walk into a store where you purchase items before and the shop owner recognizes you, that is essentially the same,” said Optimove Chief Technology Officer Tal Kedar. “The challenge of course is doing that with hundreds of attributes and millions of users.”
However, some shoppers we spoke with were not exactly pleased to hear they are being rated.
“You need to tell me what you are using, what you are basing it on because I am sure it’s more than how much I shop or don’t shop, or my age or whatever,” said one woman.
“I don't think it's fair really,” another shopper said.
Companies have been reportedly collecting data on customers for about the past two decades. Ian Wishingrad, a marketing expert and founder of BigEyedWish, says it works both ways. Customers can use social media to their advantage as well.
“If people start reporting about it, then we find out there is a big company that is known about this,” he said. “If everyone hates them and they are the worst at customer service, then there is going to be customer attrition.”