Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #132

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Help the Fight Against Hunger
This weekend I participated in the CROP Walk for Hunger. It was a beautiful day and we had a great turnout. My wife and I completed the 6 mile walk in about 2 hours. While all the numbers aren't in yet, for the Nashua walk, the online donations alone total nearly $4,000. So, it was definitely a great year! If you were one of many who donated, thank you!

If you would still like to contribute, you can make a secure online credit card donation by visiting Craig's CROPWalk Personal Page.

Customer Data - Staying Well
by Craig Bailey, with input from John Nisbet, Kilcreggan Systems & Software

In our prior article in the series Customer Data Are You Neglecting a Key Corporate Asset, we covered the steps you must take to get your customer data clean. Now that you have your clean-up underway or complete, you need to make sure your customer data remains clean on a go-forward basis.

In addition to what we've covered in prior articles in this series, maintaining a high-degree of integrity in your customer data involves two main activities: inspection and prevention.

Inspection

Inspecting or auditing your customer data can take many forms. A very simple approach would involve having a member of your customer data quality team perform a periodic (daily, weekly or monthly) review of all, or a random sampling of, customer records that were recently added or modified to ensure that data entry standards were adhered to, duplicate records were not created and that the appropriate customer hierarchies and relationships were created or maintained.

Be sure to investigate the capabilities of your database system. Some systems, such as Oracle, provide functionality that enables you to automatically detect, review and merge duplicate records. These tools can be very aggressive so you'll want to be sure to adequately test and configure them so that you'll get the desired outcome. If such a tool is available to you, you'll want to execute it periodically based upon the volume of new customer creation and the number of duplicates you identify during each run.

Prevention

Undoubtedly, during your customer data cleanup and inspection activities, you'll find patterns of "uncleanliness" that indicate key opportunities for improvement. To prevent similar issues from recurring, you'll want to put in place systemic controls. This would involve putting controls in your business applications which include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Ensuring that ALL customer records have at least one address line

  • Preventing certain strings from being input to address lines (e.g. variations of attention, assuming that your system has fields to capture accounts payable and shipping contacts which print on appropriate documents)

  • Auto-populating city and state based upon entry of zip code

  • Calling out to a routine or utility to automatically perform address standardization at point of data entry

The complexity of a given business environment may mean that multiple responsibilities are involved in the creation (and subsequent maintenance) of a customer record. Automated tools that not only enforce the consistency rules that apply in a particular organization but also take account of specific communication patterns and 'baton passing' between departments can be particularly valuable.

The approaches for you to consider will depend on the number of people who have access to modify (or add to) your customer data, and your budget.

While the topic of customer data quality may sound mundane, to some, it is an absolutely crucial issue to every business enterprise. If you recall, in our first article in this series, we covered the impact of neglecting customer data including:

  • Operational inefficiencies

  • Negative customer perception

  • Costs related to sending duplicate materials to the same entity and returned mail

  • Inability to get an accurate count of the customer base and perform analysis regarding customer acquisition, retention and risk without investing significant time to massage the data

Many enterprises expect to link their sales/AR/customer service operations to an externally integrated CRM system, which can be a significant investment. This integration, and the associated return on investment, will be substantially improved if the standards for customer data quality can be clearly defined and - just as important - readily enforced.

In closing, if you are fed up with your customer data quality issues (you know you've got 'em), please don't hesitate to give us a call. We'd be happy to expand on the strategies we've discussed here and explore how we might be of assistance to you. 

Contents

+ Help the Fight Against Hunger

+ Customer Data - Staying Well

 


 


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More Satisfied Customers
Check out what some recent customers had to say about their experiences with Customer Centricity:

Our organization needed to move from a process-centric to a customer-centric focus. We engaged Craig Bailey and Customer Centricity to assist us in moving in the right direction while simultaneously controlling costs and preserving resources. Phase I of the project was an organization assessment and implementation plan. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase I and feel that the results were well worth the investment.

Much of the success of this project is due to Craig's skill and approach. The
fact that the staff responded so enthusiastically is a testament to his ability to make them feel comfortable, ask them the right questions and to express the intention of improvement rather than criticism.

The true proof of our satisfaction with Craig's services is that we will be engaging him to oversee our Phase II implementation project. I'm looking forward to our next steps and to moving forward to customer centricity!


Kristy Wright
President/CEO
VNA, Western Pennsylvania

Customer Centricity has been instrumental in making the Sophos customer survey program a reality. From concept to launch, the Customer Centricity team guided us quickly and expertly through the process. Their years of customer experience were instrumental in analyzing critical customer feedback allowing us to take swift and decisive action in a very short period of time. Our organization highly recommends Customer Centricity and will continue to leverage their expertise in our customer-facing programs.

Dick Faulkner
VP Sales & Operations, Americas
Sophos, Inc.

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