Name Matching: What Is It and How Exactly Does It Work?

Name matching can help your company combine customer data from multiple sources that refer to the same customer into a comprehensive profile about the customer that you can use for marketing, compliance and other purposes. Also called identity resolution or entity matching, name matching is done by sophisticated software that uses machine learning to combine things that are alike, even if they aren’t exact matches.

How It Works

If a customer signs up using their phone for an online account with your company, for example, they may use their phone number for logging in. Later, the same person may accidentally sign up again from a desktop computer and use their email address as their identifier. Consumers also use a variety of other devices to access companies, including tablets, gaming devices and smart televisions. Matching creates an identity graph that shows overlaps in fields for two or more profiles and combines them into one if they meet predetermined criteria.

Name Matching Examples

You may find it obvious that Char Cabbot and Charlene Cabbot are the same person, and name matching software can combine their profiles. It may be less obvious to you that BOA in a banking field refers to Bank of America or that Mumbai and Bombay are the same city. Name matching can also resolve those issues, perhaps providing the connecting evidence that you need to combine two accounts. Inexact matches are called fuzzy matches, and software usually contains vast and frequently improved databases of terms that may match.

International Business Concerns

If you do business internationally, fuzzy matching can be difficult. Some users may enter information using the Latin-based alphabet in one instance and using the Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or Korean alphabet in another. The best name resolution software can identify similar accounts even if languages are different. It can also use its artificial intelligence to understand that Misha is a nickname for Mikhail, for example, or understand misspelled international places typed by inattentive customer service agents.

Business Uses

Many companies use matching software to better understand their customers for targeted marketing efforts, but it has other uses. Banks can use identity resolution for compliance purposes, like determining when people or companies are intentionally using fuzzy details to get around international sanctions. Your company might use it to detect suspicious activity or help customers by merging accounts so that histories or warranty details are all in the same place.

Name matching puts together related data that shouldn’t have been in separate profiles to help you better understand and serve your customers, and it can help you comply with government regulations too. As your business grows and gathers more data from diverse sources, name matching becomes increasingly important.

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