The retail sector is in uncharted territory with exceptionally tough trading conditions for many. It is an environment set to remain challenging for the foreseeable future. Although it’s impossible to control external forces such as macro economy and pandemics that make trading extremely difficult, it is possible to control and improve internal resources that play a key role in how successfully retailers meet these challenges. One such resource is customer data.
While homeworking without the distractions of a busy office environment, decision-makers have an opportunity to make great strides in improving their customer data. Directors, along with marketing and CRM teams, should leverage this time to investigate and implement new working practices that will help them to survive and potentially emerge from the current crisis in an even stronger position.
Clean customer data: a vital asset
Customer data is one of the most valuable assets retailers have. This data—if clean, contemporary and verified—ensures communications are efficiently delivered. Also, the data can be analysed to garner valuable customer insight that retailers can use to keep existing customers happy so they return and spend more in the long term.
Unfortunately, without regular intervention, customer data degrades at two per cent each month and 25 per cent over the course of a year. Additionally, in an age when customers are increasingly providing self-identifying data via their mobile devices, mistyping contact details on a small screen has become a problem. In fact, approximately 20 per cent of addresses entered online contain errors such as spelling mistakes, wrong house numbers, and inaccurate postcodes.
Data cleansing, standardisation and deduping
Fortunately, data that is simply incorrect, such as customer name, address, email or telephone number, can be easily fixed. To ensure customer data is clean, retailers need to put some simple procedures in place. Straightforward and cost-effective, these practices involve cleansing and standardising held customer data to deliver data quality both in batch and as new data is collected in real time to create a seamless customer onboarding experience.
Doing this will help retailers avoid expensive mis-deliveries of products resulting in poor customer experience, as well as keep important, sales-driven customer communications targeted and on track. In fact, taking such an approach is particularly critical considering it costs five times more to acquire a new a customer than retain an existing one.
An advanced fuzzy matching tool to deduplicate data should be deployed too. This enables the organisation to merge and purge the most difficult records and produce a single customer view from fragmented and dispersed current records.
Data verification tools can also play an important role in correcting, cleaning, standardising, and adding missing components to a customer record. With data breaches increasing, along with the number of criminals posing as legitimate consumers, it’s more essential than ever that retailers apply a verification solution to prevent fraud. The process involves matching a particular name to a specific physical address, telephone or email to make sure the customer is who they say they are, ideally in real time, to deliver a standout user experience. The ability to do this requires sourcing and access to a global dataset of billions of records containing data from trusted country specific reference sources, such as credit agency, government agency, utility company and international watchlist data.
The current economic and social environment is having—and will continue to have—a big impact on all retailers, so take the opportunity to ensure your business is best placed to drive forward once economies begin to rebound. A comparatively small investment in an enhanced data quality regime today will improve the likelihood of recovery and future growth as the outbreak abates. Furthermore, those that embrace data cleansing and verification technology solutions with a global reach will benefit the most in successfully driving commerce from around the world in these challenging times.
Biography of Barley Laing, UK Managing Director at Melissa
Barley Laing joined Melissa in 2014 during an exciting expansion phase of the California headquartered company.