phone validation

Phone Validation: Elevating Customer Communication & Data Quality

When it comes to reaching out to customers, picking up the phone and saying hello is still the most preferred choice. Phone calls are a great way to tell customers about new product launches and offer customer service. If the customer doesn’t pick up your call, you can always send a follow-up text message. Of course, you need to have the right phone number to begin with. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand the significance of having validated customer phone numbers on file.

What is phone validation?

Validating a phone number involves checking the number to see that it exists and is dialable. The number must have the correct number of digits and must be linked to the right individual. Validating each customer’s phone number manually is slow and the results have a relatively high risk of error. The good news is this can be automated with data validation tools.

These tools can validate a phone number by comparing it against reliable third-party databases. In addition to validating phone numbers, these tools also format phone numbers according to a chosen structure, enrich the data and provide valuable insights.

Understanding the need for phone validation

Having validated phone numbers on file improves the overall data quality and empowers businesses to communicate better. Here’s how -

  1. Minimize unanswered calls and wrong connections

While it may not seem so, there is a cost linked even to those calls that are not picked up. Agents spend waiting for calls to get connected. When the call is connected to a person who isn’t on your lead/ customer base, more time is spent on a conversation that isn’t likely to be productive. This cuts down on the time they could have otherwise spent speaking to verified customers. It also brings down call statistics and demoralizes the team.

Further, when an agent’s call is connected to a wrong number, the person at the other end of the call may form a negative impression about the company. This can damage your brand reputation. However, if all phone numbers are validated before being called, you can avoid such instances.

  1. Know your customers better

Looking at a mobile number may not tell you much at first glance. However, with a phone number validation tool, you can connect phone numbers to carriers, geographic locations and linked time zones. Some phone number validation tools can link numbers to precise geocodes within a city. This information can help businesses understand their customers better and tailor conversations accordingly.

For example, let’s say you’re running a marketing campaign about a new product launch. Knowing the customer’s location allows agents to tell customers about the new launch and let them know the closest store where they can buy it. This form of personalized communication improves the overall customer experience.

  1. Get location information for intelligent call routing and placement

In addition to understanding customers better, linking phone numbers to geocodes plays an important role in call routing and placement. As you would imagine, no customer wants to be called in the middle of the night. Knowing where your customer is lets you approximate the local time and make calls accordingly.

Similarly, when you have an international customer base, your customers may speak a variety of languages. Having a location linked to a phone number gives you a better idea of the language they would be comfortable speaking and allows you to route calls through agents who speak the language.

  1. Standardize number formats to combat data duplication

Having duplicate records in a database is one of the most common quality issues faced by businesses. This affects your ability to create a singular profile for each customer, skews analytics and increases the risk of non-compliance with data privacy regulations.

The trouble with de-duplicating phone numbers is that they have a variety of lengths and formats. For example, a landline number in the UK has a 3-digit area code and an 8-digit calling number. On the other hand, a landline number in the USA has a 3-digit area code with a 7-digit calling number. While a phone number is being validated, it is also formatted according to a pre-defined structure. This helps identify and merge duplicate records to maintain a cleaner database.

  1. Optimize costs

Validating phone numbers in a database helps optimize costs in many different ways. Firstly, it keeps your database from being inflated with duplicates and reduces the cost of data storage. Secondly, using only validated numbers ensures that all messages sent out in an SMS campaign are delivered to the right recipient. Each SMS has a cost associated with it and thus, the overall cost of your campaign is optimized. This applies to calling costs too.

Getting started with phone validation

Adding a phone number validation step to your customer onboarding process does not interfere with the customer experience in any way. Of course, you need to choose the right validation tool. If you have an international customer base, it should be able to identify the type of phone number, carrier details and determine the country of origin.

With the right validation tool, numbers entered in the onboarding form are extracted and compared to third-party databases with almost instantaneous results. It is only when a number cannot be verified that the entry is highlighted on the form. This gives the customer a chance to correct errors and ensures only accurate data enters your records.

When you choose a phone validation tool, you should also ensure that it can audit your database regularly to weed out decayed data. This refers to data that was valid at the time of entering the database but has since become invalid. For example, a customer may have disconnected their phone but not informed you about it. Regular validation audits of data existing in your database help identify and eliminate such records.

Today, validating phone numbers should not be considered optional. Having verified phone numbers improves the efficiency of your call centers and helps your business communicate better with customers across the globe.

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