Getting to know you: How to get your customer registration process rightby
25th Sep 2012
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Forget big branding campaigns, winning business is all about understanding your customers. GB Group’s David Green looks at the importance and evolution of the customer registration process.
Customer registration is a well-established market. For more than 15 years, businesses have recognised the value of collecting data when interacting with their customers but the arrival of the digital age has introduced new forms of interaction, creating fresh fields of data to be harvested.
For instance, landlines and postal addresses have found themselves usurped by mobile numbers, email addresses and social networks as the most important forms of data to be attained. As a result, increasing numbers of companies are introducing some form of registration to their services. Whether it’s a retail store, your football team’s homepage or even a search engine, companies are increasingly keen to register their users, so they can capture valuable contact information.
But why does it remain so important for companies to implement these registration processes and gain this data?
As interactions with customers become increasingly fleeting in a global and diversified online marketplace, businesses must make the extra effort to interact with their customers if they are to encourage brand affinity and repeat custom.
Data also finds value as the basic element of planning and resource management. If companies know their partners and customers better, they can build identity profiles of their client base. This knowledge enables the provision of more tailored services including offering special deals to customers based on their situations. From business strategy to resourcing, an understanding of target audience is essential.
Despite its importance, this data information is rarely validated. A recent study we conducted into Data Quality Management found that there was a surprising disparity between the numbers of organisations that collected the data versus those who validated it. For example, 83.5% of companies said they collected Customer Name information yet only 31.6% said they validated it, a significant difference of 52%. Similarly, the number of organisations who collect Address and Postal Code information versus those who validate it is 82.5% and 43.6% respectively, an alarming gap of 38.9%.
The dangers of getting it wrong
At GB Group, we often challenge companies to send us a sample of the data they have collected so we can test its reliability. On average, at least ten per cent of this information is inaccurate. This means that somewhere through the registration process, unreliable information has been recorded as truth – usually because of human error when entering the details – which later means that the company may miss out on revenues because it’s unable to effectively engage with its customers.
Indeed, although 10% may not sound like a significant amount, the long-term impact on a business can be huge. As previously mentioned, companies base their resourcing on their customer datasets; if these are inaccurate the resourcing will be too. A great example of this comes through call centres, which often input customer identity into an automatic dialling machine. They will work out how many staff they need to hire based on the vast amount of phone numbers they have to dial in a certain amount of time. However, if 10% of those phone numbers are inaccurate then that can mean they will grossly over-hire, needlessly wasting both money and time.
Poorly collected data can also have a vast impact on smaller businesses which are looking to build up a rapport with their customers. If people hand over their contact information, they expect to be contacted. However, if the opportunity to provide follow-up correspondence or even the delivery of products is mis-managed, then custom will be lost. SMEs in particular will especially feel the need to offer their smaller amounts of customers the best service possible.
Accurate registrations are a crucially important aspect of business life. Intelligent registration processes demonstrate a greater level of respect for a customer and their importance to the company. Customers are more likely to have a brand affinity with a company which values their contact information and maintains correspondence.
Ensuring data quality
Despite the dangers of unreliable data, surprisingly few organisations have the necessary processes, tools or strategic will to combat it. In fact, our study suggested that of those who did recognise the value data quality management can bring to a business, over 60%, don’t currently have a strategy to deliver it or the tools, processes or strategic will to do anything about it. Practical operational problems like keeping data up-to-date and accurate and making sure it is secure and well managed remains the primary concern for businesses, and data decay and poor quality external data from outside an organisation is still a headache for most companies.
It’s clear that organisations continue to face huge challenges in terms of managing data, but the supposed ‘big data’ phenomenon suggests the issue is only going to get worse. Companies must verify information in real-time at the point of registration so they can be on the front foot in the fight against inaccurate data. Real-time registration software means that before customers have even filled out their registration forms, their information can be assessed. Users can be alerted to spelling mistakes or carelessly typed mobile numbers before it’s too late. Data entered can then be verified against multiple data sets; combining electoral rolls, postal records and other readily available identity information.
Getting customers through the door is a key aspect of any business, but the ones which will really flourish are the organisations which capture accurate contact details at the very first point of engagement so they have the foundations to get to know their clients even better.
David Green is business development director at GB Group.
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