Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #127

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 

Customer Data - Are You Neglecting A Key Corporate Asset?
by Craig Bailey

Is your firm neglecting a key corporate asset - customer data? Many firms do, and it costs them dearly. The business impact of this neglect includes, but is not limited to:

  • Operational inefficiencies for all personnel that deal with customers (Sales/Marketing, Service, Billing, Credit/Collections, etc.) resulting from difficulties trying to determine "which" customer record to use when there are multiple occurrences of a customer's record to choose from.
  • Negative customer perception as front-line personnel fumble around trying to identify the appropriate record, out of many, that may contain the relevant information about the customer's profile and interactions with the company.
  • Costs related to sending duplicate materials to the same party or entity.
  • Costs related to returned mail (materials, shipping and repeated handling) due to incorrect address information.
  • Inability to get an accurate count of the customer base.
  • Inability to perform analysis with regards to customer acquisition, retention and risk without investing significant time to massage the data. Examples of "difficult" but important business questions include:
    • Was this really a new customer or a duplicate of an existing customer?
    • Did this customer stop ordering, or are their orders being booked against a different / duplicate customer record?
    • Who are the top revenue generating customers and what percent of revenue do they represent?

To put things into perspective: What if numerous people had the ability to add or modify YOUR employee record, in an uncontrolled manner? Wouldn't that wreak havoc for you and others (payroll, benefits, security)? To a very large degree, that is how many firms treat their customer data.

This neglect of customer data often results from a lack of:

  • Consistently applied data entry standards
  • Controls in terms of who has access to do what
  • Conversions of customer data from acquired companies (compounding the above)
  • Overall ownership of customer data and customer data quality

Now that we have your attention, we'll share strategies that you can follow to improve customer data quality. We will do this by covering the following topics:

  • Promoting awareness of the problem
  • Stopping the bleeding
  • Getting well
  • Prevention
  • Inspection

In the coming editions of our newsletter we will cover each of the above items.

A question that you might ask: "Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?" To be clear, customer data may never be 100% clean. Realizing this, consider pragmatic goals and realize that it is a continuous journey.

To summarize, increasing the integrity of customer information will improve the customer experience, internal efficiencies and the ability to leverage this information to achieve business objectives. An easy ROI indeed!

 

 

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+ Customer Data


 


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