Clean Your Database
• Have your customer service and order-entry departments take a few minutes on each call to confirm database information. If you’re a business-to-business (b-to-b) marketer, don’t just have your reps confirm the names and addresses of the contacts to whom they’re speaking; but also ask for their assistance in checking on other contacts at that company. Be sure your Web site prompts customers to update their data each time they visit.
• Try this experiment: Allow a select group of customers (such as the best or largest segment) Web access to their own data in order to keep it updated. For security purposes, advises Bernice Grossman, president of DMRS Group, give customers passwords to their accounts. She also suggests that for quality control, be sure any changes or input in the process go to a staging area prior to updating the database.
• Whether you allow customers direct access or you do the maintenance yourself, determine what will get priority. Grossman recommends using the most complete record, such as one that contains a mail stop versus one that doesn’t. She also advises that you give top priority to those changes that are affixed to a transaction, such as a sale.
• Ask your sales team or retail staffers to help you verify names and addresses while they assist customers. Tip: Reward those employees who regularly update customers’ contact information. That said, however, don’t just depend on your sales force alone. “Data hygiene is the responsibility of the marketing department,” Stevens notes.
• Stevens also recommends that you use outbound calling and other ways to contact customers and keep data clean. “Many times, critical data we store on customers isn’t limited to just the name and address, and that also needs to be kept clean,” she says.
• Many companies are busy trying to crank out an ever-growing number of e-mails, and are asking customers for their e-mail addresses and appending them on their databases. But many catalogers need to do a better job of cleaning the e-mail addresses they already have.