Why brands must act now to tackle their customer data

BLphotoCOLOURMost people now recognise data is the lifeblood of business, but are you confident that your customer data is accurate, and do you trust in its integrity to drive your business forward?

While data accuracy has been an issue for many years, an increase in data collection on mobile devices is exacerbating the problem. With consumers completing contact forms on a small screen, it’s easier for mistakes to be made. Then there are call centres – data entry errors to names, addresses and other contact details are common mistakes made by staff. It’s no wonder organisations still wrestle with duplicate customer records and don’t know which one is correct.

But it’s not just the inconvenience and cost of fixing duplicate records. Inaccuracies with customer data can cause bigger problems for businesses. For example, they can lead to shipping a product to a customer address that’s not recognised. This means the item has to be returned, costing the organisation money on the return and a hit to reputation with a customer whose order has not been fulfilled.

Looking at the bigger picture, inaccurate customer data can also hinder decision making around investment and planning. This can have serious negative repercussions that impact on the long-term viability of any organisation. In one recent study, 81% of large companies stated they experience significant problems linked to delivering meaningful business intelligence due to poor quality data.

Also, with on average 2% of a company’s revenue lost on modifying incorrect data – which directly impacts on marketing spend, availability of resources, staff time and customer engagement – it makes sense to capture the correct customer data at all touchpoints.

Tools that deliver autocomplete with addresses at customer touchpoints help. Not only do these prevent mistakes in address data, but they can cut data entry keystrokes by up to 70%, speeding up the checkout process and improving the customer experience.

It’s also important to take customer checks and verification to another level, not only for data accuracy, but for protection against fraud. With the escalation in data breaches, which has led to an increased number of criminals posing as legitimate consumers, it’s vital to verify a customer’s entire record. This means matching a particular name to an accurate physical address, email address and phone reference data, such as electoral roll, credit agency and utility company, at the touchpoint in realtime. It’s this approach that will ensure businesses know their customers are who they say they are and help cut down on fraud.

Also, taking this approach to deliver accurate customer data provides a high level of confidence in the data that can be used to accurately inform the future focus of the business, such as new product development.

Increasingly poor data quality, combined with a rise in data breaches and subsequent fraudulent activity, will require organisations to act in 2020. To win back trust in the accuracy of their customer data they must put in place address and ID verification procedures at customer touchpoints. It’s the best way to reduce returned shipments, improve the customer experience, prevent fraudulent orders and bring back confidence in the accuracy of the data to make better informed decisions. Make it your New Year’s resolution to trust your customer data again.

Barley Laing is UK managing director at Melissa

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