The Problem with, And a Solution to, Inaccurate Customer Data

November 30, 2017

How accurate is the customer data that you hold? Could the development of your Single Customer View have been enhanced by improving the accuracy of your customer data? How confident are you that the email, phone number, postal address, customer name details etc. that you hold are accurate and up to date, enabling you to communicate with each customer effectively? Does your SCV hold all your customer data? Does your data allow you to run accurate personalised marketing campaigns?

Accurate data doesn’t just effect delivery of your marketing communications. Cleansing customer data will have a positive improvement in your customer deduplication, improve predictive analytics, provide a consistent customer experience, allow better personalisation, and even protect your brand reputation leading to increased Lifetime Value. Let’s explore this further…..

What does the Data Protection Act say about accurate customer data?

Principle 4 of the Data Protection Act states “Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date”. The ICO goes on to state what steps should be taken to comply with this:

  • Take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of any personal data you obtain
  • Ensure that the source of any personal data is clear
  • Carefully consider any challenges to the accuracy of information
  • Consider whether it is necessary to update the information

As your customer and personal data is being used for marketing purposes, there is a duty to ensure you take necessary action to make sure customer information is accurate at the point of capture and kept up to date as they continue to have a relationship with your brand.

I would argue that you shouldn’t need the Data Protection Act or the ICO to tell you to keep personal data up to date, you should want to do this as standard across your Customer Data Platform. How can you continue to communicate effectively with each customer if you don’t?

Customer Lifestyle Changes and Challenges

Over time customer details can change.  If they make you aware of this it is important that you have a process to update this information within your CDP. If they don’t make you aware that might mean that you no longer have accurate information to communicate effectively with that customer.

What happens in your database if a customer moves address? How is this information captured? Could this result in an additional customer record being created? Tracking your customers is important. If you are creating a new customer record each time a customer moves or provides a different email address or is provided with a new store card, how can you combine everything you know about that customer into one record on your SCV? How can you be confident in running personalised communication if transactional and behavioural data for the same customer is stored in different records?

Being able to highlight that a customer is no longer at the address you hold will stop postal communication being sent incorrectly, but being able to track where that customer has moved to will not only enable you to continue that communication but will also help link any previous activity or knowledge you’ve captured and provide an improved customer experience.

We should then consider the challenge that a customer may visit your website over 9 times prior to committing to any purchase, 88% of customers are just browsing, and customers can move between up to 4 different devices whist engaging with your site. This adds additional complexity when understanding each customer’s relationship with you.

This is just the start though.  You then add in further channels – social, app etc. Being able to accurately connect all these different interactions within your CDP becomes increasing important to allow you to combine everything you know about that customer and run fully personalised communications.

It’s what the customer has provided to us, so we shouldn’t amend these details!

There is an element of truth in this statement. If the customer has provided you with certain information about themselves, that is what they want you to hold. As mentioned previously, customer details do change over time and they might not make you aware of this, even though it would improve their experience with you if they did.

However, sometimes the information captured initially is inaccurate. This might be because the customer has decided to give you inaccurate information. How many Mickey Mouses, Donald Ducks, Luke Skywalkers, Hans Solos, Joe Bloggs or similar do you have on your database? What if profanity has been populated within certain customer fields? Can you highlight test or dummy records within your data? These issues are fairly common when you’re reliant on customers populating personal information.

If this information is provided or stored it is impossible to correct these details.  However, it is important that you can highlight these and flag appropriately. You would like to think that if a customer has populated inaccurate forename and surname details that any email, postal address, phone number or any other contact detail will also be incorrect – but can you be 100% sure that is the case?

You wouldn’t want to waste money sending communication to Roger Overandout when we know that isn’t the intended recipient. If the remainder of the contact information against that record is correct and the necessary permissions apply, then it could well get delivered and could harm brand reputation.

Not just updating…..

So, improving inaccurate data isn’t always about updating information in your CDP. It’s also about highlighting potential issues that you might find within your customer data that could lead to complications when running your multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Your CDP needs to be able to combine data elements from multiple different sources and you should be confident in the accuracy of the personal data that you capture to enable merging of data across all your channels.

Customer data is the most important element within any CDP. It not only allows you to communicate with each individual but also forms part of any deduplication process, leading to improved customer knowledge, customer experience and maintaining brand reputation. Ensuring this information is accurate is therefore key to having a fully functioning and effective CDP.

Looking for support with your data? Contact us at RedEye.