In my recent post on “Customer Analysis: Are You Getting the Complete Picture?” I talked about the problem of incomplete or inconsistent data. Today I’d like to address some of the things you can do to solve this problem. Here are 5 ways to get complete data:
- Use Required Fields and Drop-Down Boxes – Whether the forms are to be completed by customers or employees, the use of required fields and drop-down boxes will reduce problems with incomplete or inconsistent data.
- Invest in Name & Address Standardization Software – Easy-to-use software is available that will compare your customer files and find the instances where one person is showing up as multiple customers. For example, if “Patty Jones” and “Patricia Jones” both live at the same address, the software will assume this is the same person, standardize the name, and combine the files.
- Standardize Data Across Your Organization – Be sure that all of your organization’s systems use the same unique identifier for each customer or product. In addition, take steps to ensure that data is collected and saved in standardized formats. For example, you should always have separate fields for address, city, state and zip code, with an organization-wide decision regarding whether or not abbreviations will be used.
- Train Your Staff on Your Data Formatting Standards – Once you’ve determined what your data formatting standards are, all of your front-line people need to be fully trained to comply. For example, if you want data entered in upper/lower case, with no abbreviations and dates in XX/XX/XXXX format, you need to say so!
- Capture as Many Customer Touch Points as Possible – Every customer interaction, from purchases to customer service calls to emails sent, should be entered into your system, in a standardized way. Ideally, customer interactions that take place through your distribution channels will be fed back into your system as well.
What else has your organization done to obtain complete data? Leave your comments below.