data clean

Time to Spring Clean Databases

Despite inflation easing the economy remains in a fragile state.

During this period all organisations have to be focused on fiscal due diligence and look to drive possible efficiencies as they strive to be more productive in the way they operate and protect their bottom line.

Why clean databases?

With spring in the air focusing on maintaining a clean database of those who buy your products and services is a great way to drive efficiencies. Doing so avoids wasting time and precious budget on inaccurate communications, and helps to ensure the delivery of a standout customer service.

Gaining valuable insight, such as a single customer view (SCV), which can be used for better targeting, including personalisation with communications, is another benefit of cleaning customer data. Along with the ability to deliver a consistent, positive user experience, which is something people expect in today’s increasingly digital world.

It’s important to recognise that best practice decision-making is based on high-quality, reliable customer data because the insight that it helps to provide makes it possible to create informed decisions on new products and services, for example.

Data decay is a constant issue

A significant issue is that contact data decays on average at three per cent a month, according to Gartner, at roughly 25 per cent a year, as people move home, divorce or pass away. With data continually degrading it’s vital to have data cleaning processes in place, not only at the customer onboarding stage, but to clean held data in batch. The good news is such an approach usually involves simple and cost-effective changes to the data quality regime.

How to effectively clean customer databases:

Source an address lookup or autocomplete service

 Using an address lookup or autocomplete service is a great way to obtain accurate contact data at the customer onboarding stage. These tools deliver accurate address data in real-time by providing a properly formatted, correct address when the user starts to input theirs. Another benefit of the service is the number of keystrokes required when entering an address is cut by up to 81 per cent. This speeds up the onboarding process and improves the whole experience, making it significantly more likely that the user will complete a purchase.

Services such as these are very important because around 20 per cent of addresses entered online contain errors; these include spelling mistakes, wrong house numbers, and incorrect postcodes, typically due to errors when typing contact information.

The first point of contact verification can be extended to email, phone and name, so this important contact data can also be verified in real time.

Deduplicate data

Organisations without data quality initiatives in place can have 10-30 per cent duplicate records in their databases, which makes data duplication a common and significant issue. It happens for a number of reasons, including when two departments merge their data and errors in contact data collection take place at different touchpoints. Duplicate data adds cost in terms of time and money, particularly with printed communications and online outreach campaigns, and it can have a negative impact on the sender’s reputation. The answer is to use an advanced fuzzy matching tool to merge and purge the most challenging records. This helps to create a ‘single user record’, enabling a business to source an optimum single citizen view (SCV), the insight from which can be used to improve communications.

Importantly, organising contact data in this way will improve efficiency and reduce costs, because multiple communication efforts will not be made to the same person. As an added bonus the potential for fraud is reduced with a unified record established for each user.

Data cleansing and suppression

It is crucial to undertake data cleansing or suppression to reveal people who have moved or are no longer at the address on file. In addition to removing incorrect addresses, these services can include deceased flagging to stop the delivery of mail and other communications to those who have passed away, which can cause distress to their friends and relatives. By implementing suppression strategies organisations can save money by not distributing inaccurate messaging, and protecting their reputations, while boosting their targeting efforts to overall improve the user experience.

Use a data cleaning platform

Today, it’s never been easier or more cost-effective to deliver data quality in real-time to support wider organisational efficiencies and the delivery of a better customer experience. One that stands out is a scalable data cleaning software-as-a-service (SaaS) – such as our Unison platform - that can be accessed in a few hours and doesn’t require coding, integration, or training to use. This technology can cleanse and correct names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers worldwide. It also matches records, ensuring no duplication, and data profiling is offered to help identify issues for further action. A single, intuitive interface offers the opportunity for data standardisation, validation, and enrichment, ensuring high-quality contact information across multiple databases. It can deliver this withheld data in batch and as new data is being gathered. As well as SaaS, such a platform can alternatively be deployed as a cloud-based API or on-premise.

In conclusion

During these challenging economic times delivering customer databases that are clean and accurate must be one of the first things organisations do. Spring cleaning their databases should not be an annual event, but something they undertake on an ongoing basis. It will ensure significant efficiency savings, while also providing a standout experience to those who buy their products and services.

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