Banking What Is a Customer Information File (CIF)? Customer Information Files Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes By Cassidy Horton Updated on July 13, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article Customer Information File Definition and Examples How a Customer Information File Works Benefits of a Customer Information File Photo: Helen King / Getty Images Definition A customer information file (CIF) is an electronic file that gives a snapshot of a customer’s personal and financial details. A customer information file (CIF) is an electronic file that gives a snapshot of a customer’s personal and financial details. It has a unique CIF number and allows companies to quickly identify a customer’s relationship with the institution. CIFs were historically used by banks and financial institutions, but other types of companies are also starting to use them. Here’s a look at how they work. Key Takeaways A customer information file (CIF) is an electronic record that contains all of your personal information and lists all interactions you’ve had with a company. It’s usually accompanied by a unique CIF number.A CIF is helpful for companies because it gives them a quick snapshot of your relationship with them.In banking, your CIF may list out all your account numbers, transaction history, lines of credit, past inquiries, and more. For online stores, it may state your product search history, purchase history, gender, and other demographics.Companies use CIFs to create a better customer service experience and figure out what other products and services you may buy. Definition and Examples of a Customer Information File A Customer Information File is a computerized file created by companies that stores information pertaining to a customer’s account and activity history. Acronym: CIFAlternate name: Client information file All customer information files contain a unique CIF number. Companies can use this number to sort and identify customers based on relationship type. Beyond that, the type of information included in a CIF depends on the company using it. Your CIF at a bank, for example, may contain your personally identifiable information (PII), such as: Your nameAddressDate of birthPhone numberPhoto IDSocial Security number Note Every company you interact with likely has some type of CIF on you. How a Customer Information File Works The customer information file tells companies, institutions, agencies, banks, and others who you are and how you’ve interacted with them so far. Think of it as a summary of your customer journey. A retail store collects information on your product searches, purchase history, gender, and other demographics. A bank’s CIF lists all your account numbers, and it highlights your bank balances and transaction histories. Banks want to keep their CIFs as up-to-date and accurate as possible, so some of them hire team members whose entire jobs are to maintain customer information files. CIFs are mostly associated with commercial banks and retail banks—but this isn’t always the case. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs keeps a CIF for each veteran that comes through its office. This file includes items such as: A unique veteran identification number (also known as a CIF number)Social Security numberVet Center team numberMarital statusGenderBirthdateService datesBranch of serviceVeteran eligibility informationDischarge statusReferral sourceVisit information and treatmentOther statistical information about services provided to the veteran Even if a company doesn’t directly have CIFs, it probably uses some type of customer relationship management (CRM) software to collect data and keep track of client information. CRM software tracks the company's interactions with you, while CIF data is a record of your customer attributes. Benefits of a Customer Information File Companies use CIFs, in part, because they provide benefits such as a better customer service experience and a CIF's marketing potential. Better Customer Service Experience CIFs help companies give you a better customer service experience. Each time you contact the company, an employee can quickly pull up your CIF and understand your entire relationship with them—even if that particular person has never spoken with you. In a time where most interactions are done online, this type of personal attention goes a long way in making you feel valued as a customer. Used As a Marketing Tool CIFs can also be used as a marketing tool for companies and are an integral part of customer segmentation. Most CIFs track your activity history, lifestyle information, demographics, and more. Companies use this data to determine what other products and services you may be interested in next. Service-based companies, such as doctor’s offices, lawn care businesses, and car dealerships, may also use CIFs to keep track of when you may need to visit them again. For example, your local dentist's office could use its CIFs to determine which customers need a six-month checkup. Your local auto shop may do the same thing when it’s time for you to get your oil changed. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Government Publishing Office. "Notice of Amendment to System of Records."