Spring is well and truly underway, and as the weather warms we have entered the traditional time for cleaning in anticipation of another long summer. It’s not just homeowners who can make the most of the changing seasons, however – businesses should use this time as a reminder of the importance of having clean, accurate data.
As the digital age has progressed and many businesses have found themselves needing to rapidly implement modern data management solutions, it’s not unexpected that quality has been sacrificed in favour of haste. It’s precisely a situation like this that can result in unclean data, which may not seem like a huge issue early on, but it’s one that can build up to a serious impediment to productivity and efficiency.
The problem with dirty data
In the context of business data, cleanliness essentially refers to accuracy and usability. The insight businesses can gain from an effective data management system can lead to some immense benefits; however, if the quality of that critical resource is not up to scratch, then deriving value from it becomes difficult.
Digital information can be considered unclean for a number of reasons, with some of the most common problems being:
- Incorrectly entered data – punctuation and spelling can be major culprits here.
- Duplicate data – while a user may be able to identify two identical pieces of data, that distinction will not be as obvious to the database.
- Inaccurate data – the trouble with customer data is that is changes regularly, and often organisations aren’t aware that their information is inaccurate.
- Improperly formatted data – having the data in your system isn’t enough, it must be entered in a way that is easy to find and access.
Improving the quality of your data is essential; incorporating solutions and methodologies to ensure cleanliness can make a huge difference when it comes to generating insight.
The insight businesses can gain from an effective data management system can lead to some immense benefits.
Benefits of clean data
Data cleansing is all about simplification – making information available to anyone within the organisation through a consistent, efficient process. Having inaccuracies or duplications can slow users down at the times when speed is essential, such as when a customer service representative is fielding a call from a frustrated client.
By expunging all dirty and unnecessary data from your system, a standardised system for locating information can be implemented much more easily. Picture a call centre worker using a customer address to bring up an account, for example. If they know precisely the format that it will appear in the database – and that the details are verified against irrefutable sources such as post office address files – locating that account will be much faster, reducing the downtime on the call.
These benefits go beyond time-saving, however. Organisations that take the time to clean up their data can expect significant cost reductions, as attempting to contacting customers who aren’t there, or contacting the same customer multiple times, will be minimised.
Data cleansing also has a part to play from a brand protection standpoint. Duplicates and inaccuracy can lead to delayed response times to customer enquiries, poorly distributed marketing materials and higher returns on campaigns.
Clean data case study: Customer addresses
One of the most vital elements of customer data your organisation can hold is addresses. They’re an essential part of identity verification, often the second thing asked for on any forms after customer name – an indication of their value.
Having accurate address data can be useful for a number of reasons, some of which may not be as obvious as others.
- Risk assessment
For insurance companies, calculating a new home and contents policy will depend on a number of factors – value of items being insured, existing security measures protecting items from damage or theft and, crucially, location where items are held. Having verified address details of the prospective customer can help to determine the risk to their insured items, and therefore the premiums and excess they will pay in the event of a claim.
- Marketing targets
Every city is made up of suburbs, and very rarely will two areas be identical. Address information can be referenced against demographic data to help organisations divert certain marketing materials to certain suburbs in favour of others. The products and services important to areas largely populated by families with young children may have little in common with those of professionals living in the CBD, so your campaign strategy can be adjusted to service different areas with minimal wastage.
- Emergency services
High-quality, searchable address data is essential to ensure that fire, ambulance and police services can respond to calls in a timely fashion. Any time spent sifting through poor-quality information can literally be the difference between life and death,
These are just a handful of examples where cleaning your data can lead to significant improvements. Like any business asset, information needs to be maintained to keep it in good working order – speak to Mastersoft today and enhance the quality of your data.