Are You Brave Enough to Change Your Data Habits?| By |Martin Doyle

Do you often go with gut feeling rather than data and insights? Is your data stored in separate databases, in different formats with different values? We all have bad habits and some are a little hard to kick. However, if there is one you must break, it is surely to make your bad data habits a thing of the past…

Breaking bad data habits isn’t easy. Often there is internal resistance to making data-driven changes, especially with ‘the way things have always been done’ attitude many businesses still embrace. However, ignoring the elephant in the room can be costly. According to Experian’s Data Quality Report, 83% of companies believe their revenue is affected by inaccurate and incomplete customer or prospect data. This is often due to time and money being wasted on unnecessary resources and marketing and communication activities, which ultimately result in a huge loss of productivity.

The cost of bad data habits

Data is your business’ most valuable asset – it enables you to make the right decisions and impacts everything from email deliverability to customer service and ultimately revenue generation.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t realise the scale of the data quality issues and fail to give it the focus it deserves. They continue to follow the status quo, storing data on multiple systems, in different formats with different values without really knowing how to manage it. Consequently, as more and more data builds up, the whole data silo becomes unmanageable.

The Experian Data Quality Report indicates that inaccurate data impacts the bottom line of 88% of businesses, with the average company losing 12% of its revenue as a direct result. Consider this, a typical marketing department sending brochures to people that have moved house due to outdated data – It’s been said that as many as 1 in 12 pieces of direct mail never reach their intended recipient, resulting in wasted time and money.

Furthermore, according to Interact, 19.8% of business time (the equivalent of one day per working week) is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively. When a customer calls for support on a product or service – does your customer service representative recognise the problem immediately or need to search for that information? How long does it take? The longer it takes, the more potential damage it could have on your reputation, not to mention the time wasted by your employees, and time is money.

Daring to change the habits

Are you brave enough to do things differently? With the right tools and a commitment to ensuring data quality, you can proactively manage your data, removing duplicates and fixing errors before they harm your bottom line. This requires careful planning, regular reviews and perseverance – here are our tips to help you on your way:

Educate everyone

Make sure everyone sees the value of keeping accurate records as only then they are more likely to follow requests and new processes. For example, tell your customer service team that by recording more detailed information about customers they will be able to assist with queries quicker and more efficiently.

Define your data needs

Define what data is important to your business, as this will help you understand and anticipate your customers’ needs more effectively. Identify the best ways to record and report on your data, including what fields and values to use. What’s more, ensure data is accessible to all who need it.

Implement data quality standards
To ensure your system contains good quality data, introduce data policies and procedures to ensure everyone within your organisations knows how to record it and where to store it.

Introduce regular reviews
Data degrades quickly and we are only human, so mistakes will happen. Therefore, it is important your data is reviewed and cleansed on a regular basis. Depending on the volumes of data you hold you might want to hire a Chief Data Officer.

Invest in the right tools

Integrate your systems to ensure data is accessible from one location, enabling you to obtain a complete view of your business performance. Data Cleansing Software can also help by reviewing your data and identifying matches, ensuring data is free of duplicates and correctly formatted at point of entry.

If you’re guilty of any bad data habits, it is time to change your routines. A report by IDG identified that companies with effective data grow 35% faster year-on-year, so what’s stopping you?

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