Overcoming the Ills of Bad Data

It’s no brainteaser that companies rely on multichannel data to deliver a prime customer experience. But how can brands assemble the customer profile puzzle when they’re using the wrong pieces? According to an Experian QAS report entitled Data Quality and the Customer Experience, 94% of organizations suspected that their data system contains flaws, and the average survey participant believed that as much as 17% of their company data could be incorrect.

Experian QAS SVP and general manager Thomas Schutz admits that data systems can fall victim to errors through a number of ways, including mistakes in consumer-entered information, imprecise data capturing, and flawed data merges and internal processes. Schutz adds that maintaining a “cleansed” database is a never-ending task.

“It’s never finished because the database is an evolving process,” Schutz says. “It’s being merged, purged, parsed, and deduplicated. It’s being utilized at every angle.”

ROI is strong marker of whether a company’s data is accurate, says Schutz. “ROI is the central equation of any marketing organization that needs to interact meaningfully with customers. It can indicate how effectively you’re interacting,” he says. “That’s an indicator at a high level for businesses to start looking at their strategies.”

According to the report, 32% of survey respondents admit that their customer perception has been negatively skewed by flawed data, and 29% reveal that they lost customers due to inaccurate data. Ninety-one percent of participants also believe that erroneous contact data has wasted a portion of their budgets over the past year.

Above all of today’s customer touchpoints, the report deems email as the “most important marketing communication channel for 2013,” and Schutz says email is anything but dead.

“Email marketing has moved beyond spam and mass mailing to being a very sophisticated means to communicate,” Schutz says. “Rather than an inexpensive way to do direct mail, it’s a meaningful communication channel.”

Schutz adds that consumers are becoming more comfortable using email to communicate with companies and that email can appear more customizable. Hence, consumers are becoming less and less forgiving when it comes to email blunders.

“Rather than a dropped pamphlet, it’s a meaningful, personalized way to reach out to your constituency,” Schutz says. “The extent to which you can make these communications meaningful [reflects] the importance of getting that email into the right person’s hands. It’s become less OK to get it wrong.”

In addition to communicating via email, 40% of survey respondents connect with consumers via social. Schutz notes that social enhances email marketing, rather than competes with or detracts from it.

“In some cases, marketers leverage email to talk to customers on social. You’re using the same medium, in different modes, to communicate with your constituency.” Schutz says. “One does not work as well without the other. They strengthen each other.”

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