How to ensure your data is clean, validated and complete
You may have noticed, we have gone through an explosion in customer service platforms. You may also have noticed that this has resulted in an explosion in customer data. Interactions through different channels can result in data being stored in different locations: ERP, CRM, EPOS, finance systems – and that results in duplications, inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
For a customer-facing business, that can be disastrous – if an issue is logged in one area, but not in another – you risk looking like you simply don’t care.
Customers today are interacting with businesses across more platforms than ever. Many of these different interactions create a digital trail which can be recorded and stored to build up a picture of each customer. The trouble is, different interactions can cause data to be stored across separate locations; ERP, CRM, ecommerce, finance systems, etc. within your business. This can cause duplications, inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
As an example, client A purchased car insurance and medical insurance from the same provider, but separately. Because the records are not exact matches, you could end up with multiple versions of the customer account. Even something as simple as a slightly misspelled name can cause problems further down the line. This can include limiting search functionality or sending duplicate marketing information to one customer. The result is a series of disjointed service, sales and marketing actions that can end up costing your business a lot of money. The Data Warehousing Institute estimates that bad data costs US businesses over $600 billion a year.
The answer is what is commonly known as the Golden Record. A clean, organised, comprehensive record of your customers, purged of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. With the Golden Record you always have exact, consistent and fully exploitable customer data available. Duplicates are avoided and data quality continues to improve, allowing you to gain more accurate information about your customers. It’s what all data-driven marketers should aspire to. As Bill Tennant, the VP of Sales at ZAP says, “The better the data quality, the better the data insight.”
Why do I need Golden Records?
Creating Golden Records isn’t easy, especially for larger companies with multiple data sources. But if you can consolidate your customer data the benefits can be huge. Here are just a handful of the potential benefits of having Golden Records.
Improve Customer Relations
By providing unique and relevant information and correspondence to your existing and potential customers, it becomes much easier to build a relationship with them. When they feel valued as customers, they are far more likely to remain loyal to your brand. Nothing turns a customer off like sending the same correspondence with slightly different names, or sending an email that starts with Dear ‘[firstname]’.
Providing personable and useful information, like sending safety tips to customers in a region expecting severe weather, on the other hand, will help your customers feel that you understand and care about them. This type of engagement is only possible if you have created Golden Records. Otherwise the data simple wouldn’t be reliable enough.
Having a Golden Record of the customer allows you to understand more about their situation, needs and wants. It allows you to offer products that are relevant to them, increasing opportunities to upsell services more in tune with their needs.
It also means you can build an automated sales process that will trigger activities based on customer actions. This means you’re never in danger of missing out on sales opportunities because the automated engagement process will do it for you.
Support business decision making
Having all your data together in a consistent and accurate format will provide a huge advantage when it comes to making crucial business decisions.
You’ll be in a much better position to predict and respond quickly to changes in customer customer behavior and developing market trends. This will help your business to stay proactive in its decision making, rather than reactive.
Manage regulatory risk
With changes to EU data protection law being implemented in May 2018, ensuring your business complies to customers’ contact preferences and opt-out decisions is critical.
GDPR will make it especially important to ensure that all your customer data is being legally collected and processed. Having well-maintained Golden Records will help keep your data records clean, up-to-date and more readily accessible if asked to reveal the personal data you hold in your database.
So how can you create a Golden Record?
Most customer-facing businesses now understand the importance of being data driven, but many still struggle to effectively translate this into increased sales, better customer retention and reduced costs. According to Experian’s most recent Data Quality Survey, 64% of respondents believed that inaccurate data was undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience and 92% of respondents didn’t have have a single customer view.
To ensure your data is clean, accurate and capable of producing quality insight, apply the following 4 steps.
Before you can start looking for duplicates within the data, it is important the fields and data are standardised so you can dedupe as much as possible. This could include issues like data being in the wrong fields or having incorrectly formatted data. On a larger scale, it could imply standardisation of systems across the business – at the very least to make sure that the same fields are available
When your data and fields are standardised, look for slight variations in spelling or presentation of the data. Do you have multiple entries for Katie Smith, perhaps Katy Smith or K Smith. Beyond their name, is the rest of their information the same? If so, is it safe to assume that these entries refer to the same customer? Performing this stage will help you discern whether your brand is especially popular with women named Katie Smith who all happen to live in the same area, or whether you have multiple entries for one customer.
Once you’ve found your duplicated entries, it’s time to correct them or remove them from the record. This will help to minimise the amount of duplicate data you produce and can allow for more informed conclusions.
Finally, consolidate all the data you have on a single customer, across multiple entries, acquired from multiple touch points into a single Golden Record. Free of inaccuracies and unhindered by duplicates, the Golden Record of your customers will serve as your Single Source of Truth.
Using Golden Records with BI
If your company uses a Business Intelligence tool, your now clean and clear data can be inserted to product more trustworthy dashboards. These will be able to produce a much greater level of insight a lot faster than if you were using unconsolidated data. For larger organisations with more data sources, it isn’t always feasible to manually sort through your data – or perhaps it isn’t cost-efficient to hire a data scientist. Instead, a data management solution is required, one that can pull data from multiple sources, integrate it and prepare it for analysis by a BI tool.
No data is perfect, but creating Golden Records for your customers across your business is vital when it comes to making decisions that affect them, and therefore your business.
About Emma Hilton
Confident and experienced marketing manager with an extensive background in digital marketing and Search Engine Optimisation. I have a proven track record of devising strategies to acquire new
customers and drive traffic to the company websites. When it comes to line management, I have a hands-on approach to working with my team to ensure a strong brand presence in the search engines and on social platforms.