Data Quality, Not Just For Scientists
Scientists and analysts know the importance of data quality. In fact, they attend workshops focused on just that such as the recent Data Infrastructure: The Importance of Quality and Integrity workshop held in late November of last year. While scientists, researchers, and analysts clearly recognize the value of data quality software, data cleansing tools aren’t just for research labs or scientific data. Businesses of all types can benefit from data quality improvements, particularly in contact information.
Which types of data are prime for improvement?
Businesses generate and use massive amounts of data, day in, day out. The sheer volume and diversity of data can quickly prove to be overwhelming. Take a deep breath and think about the data that your business works with the most. Some of the most common data types in need of improvement are: contact information, addresses (including mailing, delivery, and email addresses), sales tax data, and sales and marketing leads. Each of these data types can be improved through the use of data quality software. However, since most businesses gather contact information, we’ll focus on improving data quality for contact information today.
The problems with contact information
Let’s say you run a brick-and-mortar appliance business and collect your customers’ addresses at the point of sale. Your clerks simply ask your customers for their names, addresses, and phone numbers when ringing up their purchases and scheduling delivery. Easy enough, right? After all, your customers know where they live and there’s no reason for them to offer a fake address or phone number.
That said, what happens when the customer says she lives at 135 Limonite Street but the clerk types in 135 Lemon Street or transposes the street numbers? Suddenly you have a potentially costly problem. Your delivery drivers will end up going to the wrong location and could be hours late. Not only will they have wasted time and fuel, your customer won’t be happy.
Meanwhile, your resourceful drivers will have solved the problem by using their mobile phones to call the customer to get the correct address. However, will the drivers remember to correct the address in your point of sale system later? Probably not, bringing yet another problem: all of your subsequent mailings will go to the wrong address or be returned as undeliverable.
These same data quality problems occur when customers enter their contact information using self-service portals online. Mistakes — and autocorrect — happen. Not only that, people move all the time but rarely inform the companies that they do business with. Automated address verification solves all of these — and many more — problems.
How data quality software improves contact information
Data cleansing tools exist for all kinds of contact information including address verification, phone verification, reverse phone lookup, demographic information, and more. For example, Service Objects DOTS Address Validation, which has editions available for both the United States and Canada, is a real-time API that instantly compares inputted contact information with a huge database containing millions of current contact records. This data quality software is capable of detecting and correcting typos, standardizing address information against USPS® data, verifying deliverability, appending secondary suite information for business addresses, and adding missing postal information. With a response time as fast as .15 seconds and various implementation options including a real-time API, PC-based software, FTP batch processing, and quick online lookups, these data cleansing tools quickly verify and correct contact information.
While scientists rely on quality data to further their research, businesses of all sizes can reduce costs, improve deliverability, improve customer satisfaction, and much more with data quality software. While your company likely works with a great deal of data, improving the quality of your contact information is an excellent place to start.