From autonomous cars to artificial intelligence, data has become the lifeline of almost every technology business. Data-driven insights have helped businesses come up with measurable strategies, make better decisions and experiment new ideas. However, your insights are only as good as the data you use.
As we keep gathering more and more data, over time, it tends to get a little stale. A good spring cleaning of data can positively impact your business – from streamlining internal processes, to improving customer service, to increasing revenues and improving bottom line. If you need your data to be effective, you need to ensure that it’s fresh and clean.
Clean your customer contact data
Reach out to your colleagues in every department and find out how many of them communicate with customers. Ask them how often and using which modes of communication. Conduct an office-wide survey, if it helps. You’ll realize that almost everyone in your company communicates with customers, one way or the other.
For example, your finance department is constantly in touch with your customers’ purchasing departments – emailing them statements & invoices, and calling them to settle disputes. You’ll also find your sales team to be calling your customers almost every day.
No matter where people work in your organization, they need to communicate with your customers.
Here are 3 steps to dust off your customer contact data and rejuvenate your business
1. Get rid of bad email addresses
Did you know that 30% of email addresses go bad every year? It means that almost one-third of email addresses in your CRM or customer database become invalid or change annually. It happens for various reasons. Some use temporary email addresses or junk email ids to begin with. Some change jobs.
According to a recent survey, a staggering 83% of sales and marketing professionals reported that email addresses as the most valuable piece of contact data. In fact, it’s the preferred mode of business communication by organizations all over the world.
Use an email marketing software like Yesware or MailChimp to monitor who opens your emails, who clicks on it, and remove people who haven’t read your emails for more than 6 months. A clean email list will allow you to clearly understand your target audience and come up with highly optimized marketing strategies.
2. Clean up mailing addresses
You might be thinking, “Who uses mailing addresses in 2018?” You’ll be surprised to learn that most departments such as Finance, Sales and Marketing still use mailing addresses in different ways.
Marketers use mailing addresses for lead routing. Sales people use them for territory alignments. In fact, finance needs them for almost everything from taxes to ensuring that invoices are paid. If your company ships a product, or direct mail, then you must know the cost of a bad mailing address.
If you have dirty mailing addresses in your systems, you’ll incur additional reshipment costs, and your business will lose reputation by being unable to deliver goods on time.
First of all, never rent mailing lists unless you’re sure about its authenticity. Second, run the list through a CASS certified mail list cleaning and certification program to determine how many invalid addresses were on the list, how many duplicates, how many undeliverables, and get their demographic breakdown. Third, use the CASS certification program to clean up and correct all addresses on the list.
3. Clean up Telephone numbers
According to sales & marketing leaders, the most detrimental effect of unclean contact data was the inability to reach prospects and customers due to bad phone numbers.
If your sales team is wasting time looking up the right phone number for a prospect, then it’s the time they could have spent closing a deal. Just like email and postal addresses, phone numbers are used throughout your business.
First, normalize the phone numbers to a standard format, by removing unnecessary hyphens and parentheses. Second, ensure that you use the right area code. You can determine area codes using additional information like postal addresses. Third, drop erroneous phone numbers with missing or extra digits.
If any of your automated systems (IVRs, messaging tools) use phone numbers, ensure that you input information in the right format as required by the software.
Every year, a huge part of your data becomes dirty, and this can seriously hurt your business. Imagine doubling the number of contacts in your database, only to find your business grow by a paltry 5%. Spend some time today, assessing where your data lives, and how to clean it up. Think of what processes you can put in place to prevent it from getting corrupted or outdated. If your data is consistently clean and trustworthy, it will keep generating revenue for your business.