Spring Cleaning

By Heather Baldwin

They say cleanliness is next to godliness. That’s also true for data quality. If the data going into your CRM application is not clean, you’re probably wasting thousands of dollars in duplicate mailings, lost opportunities and inaccurate sales forecasts.

You no doubt see evidence of bad data quality in mailings you receive at home. If a company has you in their database as John Smith, J. Smith and Jon Smith, you’ll probably receive three copies of the same item. Multiply that by the number of other, similar incidences and the waste can be enormous. “Most companies ignore the problem and say their data is clean enough,” says Len Dubois, vice president of marketing at Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks. “But say a company wants to mail a catalogue to one million customers at a cost of $5 per catalogue. If the company’s record duplication rate is 10%, that’s 100,000 duplications at a cost of $500,000.”

Even if you’re certain the data you initially entered into your CRM application could pass the white glove test, how are you ensuring all the tributaries that continue to feed information are clean? In other words, if you’re collecting information on customers who order products through the Web and through a call center where “operators are typing away to get one order in after another,” says Dubois, you need to ensure all those points are putting only clean data into the system.

Vigilance pays off. A major software company that was getting about 200,000 new customers per week previously used 18 programmers to manually manipulate all that incoming data. After purchasing a Trillium solution, they were able to reassign 12 of those people to other areas of the company. Another company that mails out roughly 10,000 products per day via FedEx is saving $100,000 per month by using Trillium to ensure name and address information conforms to postal regulations. It pays a $10 surcharge on packages that don’t meet the standards and was able to reduce the number of those packages by about 10,000 per month.

Trilllium’s software is priced from $100,000 to $250,000, depending on the server. “Most organizations see ROI within six months,” says Dubois. “One had a 10-fold return on its investment in one year.”