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The quest to become the “world’s greatest bank” starts with data quality

Becoming the world’s greatest bank is no easy task. But that’s exactly what a West-coast-based retail bank hopes to accomplish through its world-class services and excellent customer experience. The bank serves over 225,000 personal and commercial customers at its 150 stores across the Pacific Northwest, from Oregon to California.

Customers rely on timely communications from the bank for monthly statements, bank cards, and account information. As a result, the bank knows that having accurate and complete customer information is essential to their mission of providing the best experience for their customers.

The need for accurate address information

The bank knows just how important contact data quality is. When setting up new customer accounts, customers are required to provide a government ID, but there is no guarantee that the address on that ID is correct or current. The address may be misspelled or missing an address element such as an apartment number or street directional, which can cause the mail to be undeliverable. This can cause a customer to miss a payment or not receive other important banking information. To that end, the bank relies on address validation to ensure the contact information they collect is accurate and up-to-date.

But in 2004, the bank underwent a migration to a new FiServ application that did not allow them to append ZIP+4 information to customer addresses. The bank knew that this could be an issue down the road, so they began looking for a solution that would allow them to validate addresses in real time and append the ZIP+4.

While having a ZIP+4 is an important element to capturing a full address, it’s only one step of the process. The bank also needed a solution that they could implement in all stores, the customer contact centers, and back-office processing locations to ensure that all customer data is verified when it enters the organization. This will help the bank to reduce fraudulent activity and to protect their customer’s information in accordance with the Patriot Act.

The comprehensive solution

With an eye to finding a complete solution, the bank began researching and evaluating available products. After an exhaustive search, they chose EDQ's real-time address validation to fit their needs. The software’s type-down methodology takes an address by starting with the ZIP Code first and then continues to the street and premise number to reduce the number of keystrokes and time required to enter an address.

The installation and implementation were a snap for the bank. They installed the software in their central data center, as well as within its banking application, FiServ Expedite, to easily roll out address verification to the entire enterprise.

Becoming the world’s greatest bank

The bank’s brick-and-mortar locations saw immediate benefits from the solution. By verifying customer addresses during account setup, employees can correct the address while the customer is still engaged to ensure that new account information, statements, and bank cards will be delivered in a timely fashion.

The bank’s customer service and back-office processes have seen time savings, as a result. According to the bank, “The type-down functionality cuts the time required to take an address in half, from 45-60 seconds down to 25-30 seconds.” Additionally, since EDQ's real-time solution passes the address directly into the address fields of the banking application, the chance of an employee mistyping or “fat-fingering” an address is completely eliminated. “With 150 new customer setups and 200 address changes per day, we’re saving roughly three hours per day and that doesn’t factor in savings from reducing spelling mistakes and return mail processing.”

Address verification has also helped the bank’s compliance and fraud efforts. Verifying customer addresses as they are entered during account setup strengthens customer identification programs, as required by the Patriot Act, and helps keep customer documents from being delivered to the wrong location. When a customer address change is requested, verifying that address in real time allows the bank to ensure that the address is being changed to a current and accurate mailing address to help avoid fraudulent activity.

Implementing real-time address verification has been a big win for the bank. “In total we’re saving roughly $200,000 annually resulting from employee efficiency, returned mail reduction, and postal discounts eligibility,” states a bank representative, “but equally as important is the higher level of customer service we can now provide. Our vision is to be the world’s greatest bank; it’s in our stores and it’s how we answer our phones. Experian Data Quality helps us reach that goal by allowing us to achieve the high level of customer data quality that supports our strategic initiatives.

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