5 Steps To Maintain High-Quality Phone Number Database
Melissa AU Team | |
Though we’ve moved forward from landline phones to personal mobiles, a phone call remains the ideal way to connect with customers. 56% of a survey’s respondents ranked the telephone as their most preferred communication channel. Of course, you must have the right telephone numbers.
Putting together a directory of numbers is relatively easy. 79% of a survey’s respondents said that they would be willing to share information about themselves for personalized interactions while 56% were willing to share information for better service. But, this doesn’t guarantee a high-quality phone number database.
4 Reasons Your Database May Not Be as Reliable As You Think
There are many reasons why you need to focus on the quality of your phone number database. The four main reasons are:
- Inaccuracies: There’s a high risk of error when a person types their phone number into a form especially if they are doing so through a mobile interface. The relative closeness of the numbers on a touchscreen may cause inadvertent mistakes. Mistakes may even be made when a customer shares their number verbally for a customer care executive to note.
- Formatting: While some customers may share their phone numbers with the country code, others may not. The differences in formatting could invalidate inputs and result in the creation of duplicate records.
- Data Decay: When an individual changes their phone number, they don’t always share the new number with everyone. Thus, the number you have on record will no longer be accurate. Data can decay by as much as 37.5% annually.
- Fraud: Companies also need to be careful about fraud. Fraudsters may enter incorrect phone numbers intentionally to hack their way into databases.
The quality of a phone number database is directly proportional to the strength of the organization’s customer service. Having the wrong phone number will make it difficult for the company to contact the customer. They’ll miss out on learning about new offers, order deliveries could be delayed and so on. Similarly, having duplicate contacts could lead to a customer being called by different people with the same information and create a bad impression. All of this can be avoided by paying attention to data quality.
How to Maintain a High-Quality Phone Number Database
- Entry Validation
Validating phone numbers when they are entered on the form keeps bad data from entering your system. Data validation API integrated with the form can check the phone number being entered to ensure that it is accurate, in use and linked to the right person. For example, a customer may enter his phone number as 9898010101 instead of 9898010110. Even if the number is valid, the validation API will raise an alert since it is linked to a different name.
Calling or messaging a number listed on a ‘Do Not Disturb’ list can be detrimental to the company’s image and cost you money in fines. Thus, all phone numbers in the database must be screened against the national ‘Do Not Call’ list. This should ideally be done at least twice a year.
- Standardize Formats
Data quality must be considered right at the stage of designing input forms. To minimize ambiguities, the phone number fields must be structured in a standard format. If you ask customers on the website to enter their phone number with area code, the same should be followed on the app, manual forms, etc.
The number of digits to be entered for each field must also be specified. This is critical for companies dealing with an international audience. Some countries may have a 2-digit code while others may have three or more digits in their code.
- Regular Database Scrubbing
As mentioned above, data decay is one of the reasons your telephone database may be lower than you think. The existing database must be scrubbed regularly against reliable third-party databases. Rather than do this manually, you need a data verification tool. This improves the overall data quality in many ways. Any numbers that are inaccurate or invalid will be flagged and cleaned from the database. If an area code has changed, the existing phone numbers may be updated to reflect the current code.
And lastly, any duplicate records found can be de-duplicated and merged to create a single, more comprehensive record.
- Establish Roles
- Lastly, it is important to establish roles with respect to who can access the database, who can make edits, who can add and remove data, etc. You need data producers, custodians, stewards, consumers and so on. This brings in accountability and avoids misuse of the data.
Maintaining a high-quality telephone number database is not only the responsibility of the IT team but of everyone involved in data collection and its use. Having the right contact details helps maintain a good relationship with existing and potential customers and gives them a good experience with the company.