Your customers are your most valuable asset. It will always be important to secure new customers, but businesses also need to leverage relationships with existing customers to promote upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Loyalty programs are designed to provide existing customers with relevant offers and benefits from consistent purchases. While there is a steady investment in this area, simply having a customer loyalty program in place is not enough. These programs are best leveraged when marketers back it up with accurate contact data.
While it can be time-consuming, processes to ensure accurate data are worth undertaking, for both the savings and brand reputation benefits. With clean data, businesses can more effectively communicate with loyalty program members and other customers, analyze their behavior and buying patterns, and ultimately deliver a strong return on investment to the business. Here are three steps marketers should follow in order to get there:
- Maintain accurate contact data. If your data is inaccurate, offers may be irrelevant or customers may not receive promised materials, which damages the customer relationship. It is critical for effective communication and analysis.
Inaccurate data plagues most businesses. In fact, 63% of the organizations that responded to a recent Experian QAS survey stated that 6% or more of their annual marketing budget is wasted as a result of bad data. In the same study, 76% of respondents said that missing or incomplete data is one of the top errors in their CRM system, followed by outdated information and incorrect data.
These errors are frequently caused when a staff member mis-keys information and a duplicate customer account is created. While it is challenging enough to correct these problems in one environment, businesses today collect contact data at multiple points of capture, including websites, call centers, handwritten forms and at the point of sale. It is important to make sure that customer contact data is input correctly at all entry points in order to ensure that bad contact data does not make its way into businesses processes.
- Verify data. Correcting data from the start means training staff on the importance of accurate data and putting verification tools in place at each point of capture. One incentive is to tie staff bonuses to the collection of accurate data, which encourages them to double-check contact information with customers and also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to accurate data.
In addition, it is important to realize that even with the most thorough training, mistakes will happen. Verification software tools can ensure that an e-mail address is properly formatted, a phone number has a matching area code and exchange, or an address is deliverable and complete at each point of capture. These tools should be interactive so that staff members are not just alerted that information is inaccurate, but pointed to what is wrong with the data and prompted for a correction.
3. Consolidate data. Once businesses have ensured that data is collected accurately, they can confidently create a complete, single view of each customer. To accomplish this, an organization must consolidate data collected from different points of entry. Using software tools or a manual review process, businesses can compare account contact data to look for potential matches. This allows staff to merge duplicate accounts or household information where appropriate. That way, all records can be contained in one central marketing database, allowing for more effective and targeted communications, but also preventing wasted efforts or duplicate offers.
David Northridge is VP of client retention at Experian QAS.