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The journey of data quality

Experian Panorama






Business data may decay up to 37% each year, according to a document on data management released by QAS, the data quality service from Experian. That means that in 3 years, an entire address database may be completely unusable for direct marketing purposes, unless some measures are taken. Data is a core asset for businesses that needs to be taken care of properly on an ongoing basis, by educating the organization, setting up adequate processes and measuring the quality of the data and the effectiveness of the data management procedures.

Start at the end

Think what your objectives are, what you want to do with the data, what it will be used for. Your objectives impact on the amount and type of data you need. Knowing what you are aiming to do at the beginning will help you ensure you capture all the fields you need to do it, and that you have the ability to capture the data across all customer touch points. Considering your objectives and starting at the end ensures your data is fit for its intended purpose.

Consider the data elements

There’s much more to a customer or prospect record than a name and address. This is just the starting point for a whole host of additional information that can enrich your relationship and help you communicate with them more effectively. Analysing your current data and deciding upon its relevance will help you discover where you have gaps and what additional data is needed.

Measure data quality

No matter how good the systems and processes you put in place to capture data across all customer touch points, it is essential that you have a way of measuring the quality of the data over time. Business data decays by 37% each year, so it’s clear that your data quality processes must include provision for updating your customer and prospect data on an ongoing basis. Data quality is a journey, not a destination.

How to win support for the investment

A good data quality programme is an investment in the long-term success and profitability of your business, and like any investment it needs to be justified. Connecting the proposed investment to the company objectives and to the five areas below should act as a good business case for investment.

  • Reputation
  • Revenue
  • Cost
  • Profit
  • Compliance

Put effective processes in place

Putting processes in place to capture, clean, and maintain data will provide clear guidance on how you aim to achieve your goals and clear instructions to those working with you. Ensure that everyone in the organisation is trained in the importance of maintaining good quality data, and hold regular review meetings to ensure that your data quality processes are up to date, efficient and effective, and remain so.

Use technology

The challenge of maintaining accurate data can sometimes seem like a daunting one, but the technology is out there to help you do it. The technology you implement should be tailored to your specific organisation; concentrating on your business needs will give you a more sophisticated and effective solution. Tools are available to help you:

  • avoid potential data pollution
  • manage data decay over time
  • profile and segment contacts
  • suppress those who won’t respond

Have you improved?

To ensure you are getting a return on your investment, you should measure and report on the performance of your data quality programme on an ongoing basis. There are some key metrics that will help you see how well, or otherwise, you’re doing including customer satisfaction, time savings and accuracy. If your mailings are better targeted, you should also see an improvement in your response-to-conversion ratio.

Start again

When everything seems to be running smoothly, and your data quality programme seems to be doing its job, it’s easy to let up. Don’t. Revisit your initial objectives to see how your results are improving, review the process regularly, and make sure the key stakeholders are kept fully informed of your performance. Data quality can’t be left to look after itself; it simply doesn’t work like that. But stay on top of it, and your company will reap the benefits.

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