Manage your customer database

Keeping your customer database accurate

Guide

Data hygiene - the principles and practices that serve to maintain accuracy in computer data - is crucial for an effective customer relationship management system. It is a good idea to 'clean' your database regularly.

Your database can become inaccurate when your contacts:

  • move between job roles and organisations
  • change their email address or phone number
  • move house
  • change their name, eg after marriage
  • have changes in circumstance that mean they no longer have an interest in your product or service

Customers that receive marketing communications that are inaccurate or not of interest may find it annoying. This can affect your reputation.  Sending materials to the wrong person or address is also a waste of budget.

Updating your database

Updating and organising your data enhances your ability to communicate to the right customer. The Data Protection Act also requires you to update personal information you hold on databases. Under this act, you must hold customer data for no longer than os necessary. 

Email bounce-backs and undelivered mail are a sign of out-of-date information. You should take steps to update or remove these contacts straight away.

It is also good practise to remove a contact who hasn't interacted or responded to your communications in a long time. This indicates they aren't interested. 

Advanced data tagging and enhancement technology and services can provide the highest possible standards of data accuracy and consistency.

By adopting such methods, you can:

  • Improve efficiency - businesses that do not employ data capture tools often have records that are misspelled, incorrect or missing important details.
  • Ensure compliance with your legal obligations, particularly those relating to the Data Protection Act and electronic marketing. You need to consider your options for opt-ins and opt-outs. Consumers can opt out of being contacted by telephone, post or email, and it is important that people who have opted out are not contacted from your database. 
  • Improve campaign effectiveness - inaccurate data can result in the proposed message not reaching the targeted recipient, although you will still incur the cost of delivery.

If the information you have on record changes frequently, you might consider automating your update procedures, perhaps by means of integration with other systems.