Organizationally, customer communications can be an overwhelming concept. In many companies, the responsibility spans not only departments but also geographies and regulatory compliance requirements. Yeesh. In an attempt to simplify the process, often the best place to start is at the beginning by taking a hard look at the quality of your data.
Data quality is a concept that’s been around for a long time and is traditionally viewed as simply cleansing the expected things you know about customers—the names and addresses that feed customer databases. However, perhaps it’s time to pivot on this concept and shake off the "old school" information technology (IT) vibe it sometimes brings to mind. The reality is today’s version of data quality, if combined with customer communications, becomes quite interesting.
Put yourself in the place of your customer. When organizations send information to incorrect addresses, or address the information to “Valued Customer,” customers don’t feel the love. In fact, there are a number of recent studies highlighting the impact on loyalty when customers don’t feel a strong relationship to the organization in both negative and positive encounters. With the proliferation of social media, where every customer has a voice to the world, it’s in your best interest to make your communications deliverable, timely, and relevant.
With the addition of some data quality services at the front-end of your customer communications, you ensure you stay in touch, have a number of ways to communicate with your customers, and keep them engaged. The best place to start is by simply approaching your organization from the customer perspective and considering the following:
- When a customer first subscribes to receive your communications, have you validated their contact information to make sure it’s correct from the start?
- Do you have processes in place to make sure your customer addresses for print communications and regulatory compliance are current and validated? How do you know if those customers moved?
- Are you managing your customer lists to make sure those who are unwilling or unable to receive or respond to your communications are not included in your distribution?
- Do you have active phone numbers for your customers, or do you only have a phone number but no address?
- If your database is incomplete and your company is focused on new digital communications, are you able to message to the bulk of your customers via email, SMS, or text?
- Can you currently run effective communications that are geographically targeted?
- The list goes on…
Start by thinking about how you deliver communications to your customers and what you know about them. If you are truly pursuing success in an omnichannel world, do you have the customer information you would need to communicate with them in their preferred channel? Most companies have some customer information for both print and digital communications; yet, they don’t have the confidence that their information is current or even if it is accurate. It’s easy to place blame for the quality of the data—or lack of it—on those maintaining your customer relationship management (CRM) system or other enterprise databases. However, if you’re being completely honest, could you answer the following questions about your customers?
- Are you actually connecting with your current customers?
- How many of your customers can you communicate with via print and digital?
- Is SMS or text an option for your customer communications?
- Which of your customer communications have the highest delivery rate?
- How much do you trust your customer data?
We have all been on the receiving end of a bad customer experience simply due to an incorrect title, old address, or completely disconnected message. Be a champion for better customer communications and bring data quality into the conversation. Start with a review of your customer data, keep the customer at the forefront of your mind, and improve your communications. After all, we all know if we don’t take good care of our customers, our competitors are more than happy to step in.
Elizabeth Dailing is Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing for a group of companies, including GMC Software Technology. Her background includes strategic marketing, enterprise software sales, and marketing management in multiple data domains: security, movement, integration, and data quality. To contact Elizabeth, visit www.gmc.net or follow her on Twitter @ecdailing.