Most businesses have a database of customer data that varies in size and complexity depending on the type of products sold and markets targeted. Therefore, every business that has customers and prospects should be aware that the information they hold is, like all of us, getting older and more decrepit every day.
In fact, business information (including contact information, the address details and phone numbers) can change at a rate of more than 25% every year. So if you don’t implement measures to track changes to your database, what was once a valuable asset could in fact start costing your business money.
The ever-changing world of business data
In the last 12 months, over 170,000 UK businesses have either ceased trading or closed their premises*. How many of these businesses do you think could be in your database, costing you money in returned mail or wasted phone calls?
Making contact with businesses that have ceased trading is clearly a waste of time and money, and may result in de-motivated and ineffective sales staff. There is also the very real risk of damaging the reputation of your business over time, with hostile reactions from prospects receiving misdirected communications.
Large organisations in particular face many challenges when it comes to keeping their business data clean, as it is often compiled from many different business areas, each using their own systems. This often leads to unavoidable data quality issues which must be regularly addressed.
Measuring the impact of poor data hygiene
There is no question that the quality of a company’s data can have a significant effect on business performance – from sales and marketing, through to fulfilment and invoicing.
It is possible to feel the impact across the entire business – so brand perception, productivity and revenue may all be impacted. Of course, if the data is good quality, these can all be impacted positively. But by the same equation, if the quality of the data is poor, it is likely to have a negative impact.
All things considered though, you cannot afford to ignore anything that could negatively impact the revenue of your business.
So what are the positive impacts?
Clean and accurate customer and prospect data is essential for any sales, marketing and customer management strategy. In addition, clean data has the following positive benefits:
- Cost savings – reduced mailing wastage and mailing costs.
- Improved customer interaction – less customer complaints and improved brand image.
- Enhanced decision making – based on improved intelligence from better rates of appending additional information to current data.
- Better marketing response rates – improved return of investment, reduced costs from waste.
- Happier and more effective sales teams – improved revenues!
- Increased focus – segmenting your database to identify the most valuable key targets, so the focus is directed in the most impactful way.
- Improved return on investment – by focusing the right activity at the right audience at the right time.
Regularly maintaining and cleaning its data means a business can ensure the effort and expense invested in their company brand, promotional material and sales teams is supported by up-to-date and reliable information.
Problem areas that can have a negative impact
Duplicate records – it’s essential to identify and remove duplicate records to ensure any communication is directed correctly and not sent multiple times to the same contact. Duplicates are expensive and irritate customers and prospects, plus making contact multiple times doesn’t make a business look very professional.
Inaccurate records – are all the business details you hold still ‘active’? Or have some ceased trading or changed address? Are the contact details still up to date and the telephone details still accurate? This level of care over data hygiene is essential to a business that wants to make contact with current customers and also target prospects based on the intelligence they have on existing clients.
Missing information – Successfully adding intelligence to the business details you have is only really viable if the original record is accurate. It’s important to improve the insight that a business has on their clients by adding missing information. Consequently, this enhances targeting and therefore improves conversion and sales success.
The impact of poor data cleansing on business success is potentially huge. This is because key decisions that affect every aspect of the business could be made based on the foundation of inaccurate customer information. And that’s before you consider the wasted time and money associated with making contact with businesses that are no longer trading and contacts that have moved on.
Therefore, poor data cleansing can lead to miscommunication, a waste of time and money, customer dissatisfaction, brand erosion – well, the list goes on, but I think you probably get the picture. So making sure the data you have on clients and prospects is regularly maintained, cleaned and when required enhanced makes perfect business sense.
*Source: Market Location