Why Customer Loyalty Starts With Clean Data

By Barley Laing, the UK Managing Director at Melissa

As is commonly acknowledged in the marketing world, driving revenue in a tough economic climate is usually best delivered from your existing customer base. This is because it’s significantly more expensive to source and convert new customers than to drive revenue from existing ones.

It is why engendering customer loyalty, for example by delivering a standout customer experience, is increasingly vital for revenue generation. Particularly when persistently high inflation is encouraging customers to relook at the value provided by those brands they buy from.

One of the most important but little talked about ways to ensure customer loyalty is by obtaining clean customer data – name, address, email address and phone number. Such data not only improves the delivery of products and services, but helps marketers to obtain a single customer view (SCV), which aids the personalisation of communications, provides operational efficiencies and has the added benefit of reducing the opportunity for fraud.

Data decays rapidly

Unfortunately, 91 per cent of organisations have common data quality problems, with customer contact data lacking regular intervention degrading at 25 per cent a year, as people move home or get married, for example. Also, 20 per cent of addresses entered online contain mistakes; these include spelling errors, wrong house numbers, and incorrect postcodes, that are predominantly caused by people mistyping their details into small keyboards on their mobile devices.

How can clean data, and a SCV, be delivered to generate customer loyalty?

Fixing incorrect customer contact data is straightforward, and usually takes place with simple, cost-effective changes, which includes utilising data cleansing technology as part of your data quality regime.

Ideally, the tools used should be able to deliver data quality in batch, as well as when new data is collected, in real-time.

Address autocomplete

A good place to start is to use address autocomplete or lookup technology. These tools deliver accurate address data at the customer onboarding stage, by providing a properly formatted, correct address as the user starts to enter theirs. As a result, these tools are able to improve the customer experience by reducing the number of keystrokes required, by up to 81 per cent, when typing an address. This speeds up the onboarding process and reduces the probability of the consumer not completing the sale.

The technology used can also be extended beyond address to email and phone, enabling these valuable contact data channels to be verified in real-time. This ensures the ability to communicate effectively with users, aiding customer loyalty.

Deduplicate data

With the average database containing 8 – 10 per cent duplicate customer records, duplication of data is a huge problem for many marketers. Particularly for those that acquire customer data from different departments within their organisation, and from mergers or partnerships with other businesses.

Duplicate data adds cost in terms of time and money with customer communications, particularly with direct mail. Delivering one or more of the same communication to a customer’s address will have a negative impact on the sender’s reputation and customer relationship management (CRM) efforts.

To prevent duplication use an advanced fuzzy matching tool. This technology merges and purges the most challenging records, making it possible to create a ‘single user record’ and attain an optimum SCV. The possibility of fraud is also reduced because there’s a unified record for each customer.

Data cleaning / suppression

It’s necessary to undertake data suppression, or cleaning, using the appropriate technology that highlights people who have moved or are no longer at the address on file. As well as removing bad addresses, these services can include deceased flagging to prevent the sending of mail and other communications to those who have passed away. This is important because the reputation of your business can be significantly damaged amongst those friends and family of the deceased who are receiving the communications.

Smart data with artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the ability to add even greater value to the data held on databases. Particularly AI powered by semantic technology, or semtech, which associates words with meanings and recognises the relationships between them. This technology can deliver high value, in-depth intelligence on your customers. It does this by making powerful real-time connections between records, combining the missing pieces of data to support an informed decision about the content of a communication to a user, further improving the customer experience.

SaaS data cleaning tools

Due to the evolution of software as a service (SaaS) in the data quality area, it’s never been easier or more cost-effective to manage data quality in real-time. Today, it’s possible to source a scalable data cleaning SaaS platform which requires no code, integration or training. Marketers can simply plug in and benefit immediately. Such a service can instantly cleanse and correct names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers worldwide. A single, intuitive interface provides the opportunity for data standardisation, validation, and enrichment, resulting in high-quality contact information in real-time across multiple databases to help engender customer loyalty.

It is clear that having clean customer data delivers a better understanding of customers, improves targeting and ensures a standout customer experience, which leads to enhanced retention rates and increased spend. It is best provided via sourcing and using data cleaning technology that can correct customer data in real-time in batch and at the onboarding stage.