There’s a Secret Score Companies Use to Determine How They Treat You

Customer Service Rep Credit: Bojan Milinkov
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You probably have a secret score attached to your identity that could determine anything from the prices you pay to how long customer support will keep you on hold.

That’s according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, which highlights the existence of something called a Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV. This number could be assigned to you by various companies — and it’s basically used to determine how valuable you are to said company.

As the WSJ reports, this CLV number can be used to determine which targeted ads you’ll see, the perks you receive from a company, or even the prices you pay for products or services.

For airlines, a high CLV score could determine the odds of a seat upgrade. Credit card companies use CLV to figure out what perks to offer customers who are canceling their card.

And carriers? They use CLV to get high-value customers straight to their most skilled customer service representative — while lower CLV customers will get put on hold. High-value customers who want to switch to another carrier may also be priority customer support.

Even though it’s a little-known metric, chances are that you have a CLV assigned to you. The WSJ notes that anyone with a bank account, smartphone or online shopping accounts has “at least one CLV score, more likely several.”

It’s almost like a secret credit score, except that it’s not overseen by the government — and there’s no way for you to check your CLV scores.

The Journal equates it to the age-old method of shopkeepers using a person’s appearance or behavior to make judgment calls about their value. But now, there are reportedly “hundreds” of firms that provide CLV calculations and analysis.

This CLV score is determined by a variety of metrics. For simpler scoring systems, companies will simply look at how much a customer spends. Others can use data points like demographic information or even behaviors like how many items you end up returning.

While there probably isn’t much at this point the average consumer can do about having CLV scores, it’s not a stretch to say that people should at least know that CLVs exist.

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