In the course of business activity companies collect a variety of data regarding their existing clients and potential sales prospects. This data has relative value as a means of executing marketing and sales strategies based on the quality of the data, that is, its accuracy and consistency. The cleansing of your company´s client database should be done on a regular basis, analogous to “spring cleaning” to leverage its potential value as a source of future revenue.
The process of cleaning up data in a database is called “data scrubbing” or “data cleansing”. This consists of amending or removing data in the database that is incorrect, incomplete, improperly formatted or duplicated. Companies with data-intensive needs such as banking, insurance or retail may use a variety of automated tools to examine the data for errors or inconsistencies, for example duplicates, missing zip codes or email addresses. These tools however do not serve to determine whether the consumer client data has qualitatively changed (address, telephone number, death, interest level in the relationship, etc.) through the normal passage of time.
For a company to ensure that the consumer data is accurate requires that it periodically “touch” its clients using some type of manual process(s). This requires the company to invest time and resources, which is often low in the “to-do-list” of priorities. However this investment will reduce costs and increase profits for your company by improving the productivity of your marketing and sales efforts by focusing on high potential sales prospects.
Data Cleansing Tips
- Start At The Beginning – How does the initial client data get into your company database? This normally is by a low wage staff member tasked with the responsibility, a customer service representative in contact with a client or a self-administered online auto registration process. In all instances there is little incentive to ensure the 100% accuracy of the data. Adjust the process to incentivize the quality at the very beginning. For example, establish an explicit understanding that there is a verification process (telemarketing follow-up) in place to verify the client data, which may be selective or 100%.
- Bad Data Means Wasted Resources – If the client data is incorrectly entered (inadvertently or explicitly), it will cause problems down the line for your company´s marketing and sales teams. If the client data is entered more than once (remember the age span of a company´s database), this will waste resources, irritate you clients and confuse your sales team. If your company relies on online auto-registrations, it is inherently a process with poor quality since the consumer often intentionally falsifies the data (especially telephone and Email) due to privacy issues and fear of abuse. Bottom line, if your company is going to request consumer information, you need to anticipate investing resources in its clean up.
- Let Your Clients Help Themselves – Your company can outsource a portion of the database administration directly to its clients. Provide various means to allow the clients to auto-update their information. You can send an Email “blast” to all accounts with the goal of “re-registering” with updated information. Normally you will need to provide some type of incentive or benefit. As part of this process you can provide a toll-free telephone number to process their update requests directly. What do you do with those clients that don´t respond or those that you receive Email bounce-backs? You many choose to purge them from your client database or alternatively you may choose to do an outbound “reach” telephone call by a customer service representative that may serve for multiple purposes.
- Outsource Database Maintenance – Your company can outsource the client database maintenance as an integrated component in its marketing and sales process. Using outbound telemarketing representatives, the client “touch-call” serves a variety of purposes: determine the value of the current relationship, verify the contact data, identify sales opportunities, resolve unvoiced complaints, solicit new potential customers, etc. This outsourcing process essentially becomes a secondary component of the sales lead generation process that all companies need to ensure future sales revenue and growth.
- Sales Generation Process – As part of the data cleansing process, this can be translated into distinct steps for sales generation:
- The initial “client touch” identifies potential sales leads.
- Follow up contact increases the conversion of sales leads to sales opportunities.
- Update sales prospects with relevant information to help move them through the purchasing cycle.
- Eliminate unqualified sales prospects quickly to focus sales resources on the most promising opportunities.
- Nurture most qualified sales prospects through the purchasing process until the timing is right for closure by the sales team.
- Your Company Client Database Is Like Ice – There are very few companies that do not have competition. Hence your competition is constantly looking for your clients which reside in your database Your company database, like ice, loses value each day if it is not properly maintained and well used. As your client database is continuously “touched,” your company becomes “top of mind” (rather than your competition) when your clients need your products and services. Client data maintenance evolves to be ongoing sales lead nurturing and future business development. Rather than a cost, it becomes a profit center.
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