Data gets everywhere these days; it’s the lifeblood of business but it can be an unwieldy beast. Some firms will have spent many years building up their own customer contact database while others will be just starting out. The problem with data, in this rapidly changing world, is that not only do contact channels seem to breed faster than bacteria, but individual customers are thoughtlessly and continually changing phone numbers, addresses and email addresses. In this always on world, accurate data is essential to business growth and survival; but accurate data is harder to maintain than ever before? Enter the services of a data cleansing firm; but what exactly do these cleaners get up to and why should we be concerned with data cleansing?
If you haven’t heard of the Data Protection Act then you’ve probably been in a coma for some time. Data Protection has been a hot topic for the last couple of centuries and it’s extremely important to comply with the main requirements of relevant Data Protection laws. Back in the old days, last century, before the Internet really got itself all fired up, Data Protection laws were fairly stringent, but generally you only needed to take into account laws in the country in which you operated. Today much business (and many contacts) is global in nature and while it’s basically true that you need to comply with the relevant legislation in your own country, it helps to be aware of possible international issues as well. Good housekeeping has always been the basic principle of good data protection policies and information should not only be stored securely but should not be kept longer than is relevant. There’s some fairly broad scope in the term relevance but regular data cleansing processes will ensure that you’ve a reason for keeping data and that you are not infringing relevant legislation.
Sometimes customers move without telling you. They change their email addresses at the drop of a hat (or service provider) and they alter their phone number, land and mobile included as if it were child’s play. In short, they can be terribly difficult to keep track of. You may well be proud of your enormous customer database, but just how much of it is actually accurate anymore? Accuracy is an important part of that old Data Protection Act, but it’s vital to your company’s continued success. Updated records mean considerably less wastage and this can be particularly important if you are in the habit of using real world mail shots. While non-existent or out of date email addresses are less of a problem, you may be paying for the number of email shots your CRM provider allows, and if half or more emails are no longer around, you are simply wasting cash. Targeted email, or snail mail, shots can be hugely effective but not if there’s nobody home! Occasionally some disreputable consumers may sign up using incorrect email addresses – micky.mouse@ is a common, if unimaginative, example. Data cleansing will help to root out these troublesome and irksome reverse spammers and ensure that your targeted communications hit the spot.
The right people and the right time
Data cleansing is a cost that some businesses may be nervous of making, given the uncertain economic climate. However, inaccurate, out of date and potentially illegal record keeping is not in itself a great investment. Cleansing services may involve a cost, but in this case the cost is almost certainly an investment. Apart from the important regulatory compliance that accurate data will help to achieve, the simple fact that your customer database is up to date helps to ensure that your mail shots and customer management efforts are not simply throwing good money after bad. Customer Relationship Management systems are tailored to provide the best options for managing customers, to best and most profitable effect; but like all systems are only as good as the information fed into them, by investing in first rate quality data cleansing services you can ensure that your databases are accurate and your sales efforts are not being wasted. Data cleansing services and data matching can also ensure that your database reflects current customer trends, ensuring that you are targeting not only the right people, but at the right time.
Data cleansing services have an important role in ensuring that your message is getting across to the right people, at the right time. In addition, Data Protection Compliance is essential and data cleansing can ensure that your records are correct and relevant.