Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine it’s just rained on a spring day—take in the fresh air, the wet pavement after a rain shower and the sweet scent of flowers. That’s the smell of spring—my favorite season. For many, when spring has sprung, it signifies rejuvenation. A recharging. A renewal. At my house, it’s time to throw open the windows, shake off winter, and get to work. It’s time for spring cleaning. While this springtime task is unlikely to excite most, for me it’s a time to refresh my home and get my affairs in order before summer begins. While we typically think of spring cleaning as a household chore, the positive benefits of a light sprucing-up can also be beneficial for business.
While data is not dust and dirt, a good spring cleaning can positively effective business – ranging from streamlining internal processes, to improving customer service through customer analytics, to dramatically increasing revenue and bottom line. Over time, data, like your home, degrades. It tends to get just a little stale. For data to be used effectively, you need it to be fresh to transform your business initiatives. Look around your organization and you’ll see that data is the lifeblood for success. It’s the ‘thing’ that ensures that your customer experience initiatives are humming. Clean data is the difference between your digital transformation being a success or a failure. Simply put, it’s time to dust off your data and renew your business.
Clean your Customer Contact Data
Take a poll at your office. Go desk to desk and ask your colleagues in each department how many of them communicate with customers. Also, ask them how often and what mode of communication they use. What you’ll find is that everyone is communicating with people outside of your company. You’ll learn that the finance department is constantly talking to your customers’ purchasing departments. They’ll tell you that they email them statements, mail them invoices and call them to settle disputes. You’ll also learn that your sales team is calling customers every day. Even more frequently, they are emailing customers. No matter where they are in your organization, they need to communicate and connect with customers. Of all the ways that you could connect with your customers, the three most common are by phone, email and – believe it or not – traditional mail. Below are some considerations to take into account as you embark on your data spring-cleaning journey.
Eliminate Bad Email Addresses
Did you know that about 30-percent of all email addresses go bad every year? That’s right. Almost a third of the email addresses in your CRM or customer database change annually. It makes sense. People change jobs. They set up temporary email addresses. Or they used a junk email address in the first place, which is never going to connect you to your customer or prospect. In a recent survey of sales and marketing professionals, email addresses were identified as the most valuable piece of contact data by eighty-three percent of respondents. Every corner of your organization relies on email addresses. It’s the preferred method of communication for businesses around the globe. With nearly a third of these precious pieces of contact data becoming unusable every year, this the first and foremost piece of data that should be on your list to be scrubbed clean.
Mop up Mailing Addresses
Before beginning, I know what you’re thinking: Who still uses mailing addresses? I couldn’t tell you the last time that I mailed something to a customer or prospect. If this is what you’re thinking, frankly, think again. Go back to that survey from around your office. During your impromptu survey, did you learn that your colleagues in finance, sales, marketing and more all use mailing addresses in one way or another?
Even if it wasn’t uncovered in your discussions, mailing addresses are used throughout every organization. Marketers rely on them for lead routing. Sales rely on them for territory alignments. Finance desperately needs them for everything from taxes to ensuring invoices are paid. If your company ships out a product, catalog or direct mail, then you know – more than any other piece of contact data – how much a bad mailing address can cost your business. In the United States, the national cost of poorly targeted mailings and staff overheads is around $611 billion. With dirty data, you’ll incur huge costs on reshipments. Even more so determinantal, you’ll risk your reputation by not getting your products in the hands of customers when they expect it.
Tidy up Telephone Numbers
Did you know that the number-one, most detrimental effect of bad contact data, according to sales and marketing leaders, was the fact that prospects are unreachable due to bad phone numbers? The adage “time is money” most certainly applies. If your sales team is wasting their time looking up the right phone number for a customer, then that’s time not used closing business. Like email addresses and postal addresses, phone numbers are used throughout your business. When you can’t reach someone by email, or a product gets returned, or an issue comes up that requires you to connect with a customer now, it’s important that you have an accurate phone number so you can resolve a problem quickly. As part of your spring cleaning, make sure you don’t leave out phone numbers. They need tidying up, too.
Get Started Today
While not everyone gets excited about cleaning, without it, your data becomes incredibly dirty every year. Every corner of your business suffers when a data spring cleaning is skipped. So, take a few moments today, assess where data lives in your organization, get your dust pan ready and start sweeping up the dust bunnies hiding under that pile of old data. Once you’re done cleaning contact data (that’s the easy part) you can start think about the overall quality of your data and how to keep it consistently trustworthy. But that’s a conversation for another day. For now, I’m off to get my mop and scrub brush as I get ready for my own spring cleaning.
Thomas Brence is the Director of Product Marketing for Informatica’s Data as a Service offerings. Located in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, he has spent his entire career working for technology companies in various product marketing roles. Thomas holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and an MBA from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
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