Print-Plus: Keeping Your House in Order
The next aspect of a successful list maintenance initiative is to ensure that you have a methodology in place to properly identify duplicate customer records. In many instances, when a customer first purchases from a retailer they're assigned an identification or account number which is unique to them. This number will be used when accessing a specific customer account for any reason.
When a customer makes a repeat purchase, it's important to access the same record again. In other words, caution needs to be taken not to assign a new customer number to a previous purchaser. Not doing so will result in file duplicates, which could cause several problems, including sending multiple mail pieces to a customer, being unable to get a true snapshot of a consolidated customer profile, among other things. If you're using a third-party service bureau to maintain your housefile, in some cases you can choose (or be forced) to have your file updated — i.e., duplicate records identified and consolidated — using a match code, which is a value that's calculated based on a combination of each customer record's name and address attributes. In such scenarios, some service bureaus offer flexible matching logic that can be tweaked to your unique requirements.
Housefile Maintenance Checklist
- Key data accurately. Don't cut corners when it comes to data entry. If the data isn't accurate on the front end, everything else you do from a marketing standpoint will be adversely affected.
- Capture source code, date of last purchase, dollars spent and items purchased (or product category, if applicable) in your database.
- Capture phone numbers, fax numbers (especially for B-to-B retailers) and email addresses.
- Periodically update your housefile by running it through CASS-certified software to apply changes from the U.S. Postal Service. Also, periodically perform NCOA processing or use some alternative method of identifying address changes.
If you use customer account numbers, implement a relatively fail-safe method of assigning new numbers to ensure two things: one, no duplicate numbers are assigned and, two, no customer is assigned more than one number.