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Why managing a customer database requires constant vigilance

Paul Newman Archive

As companies in various industries seek to differentiate themselves from the competition through superior customer service, it becomes increasingly necessary to have accurate knowledge of the consuming public. As an organization continues to get bigger, taking on more and more customers, it gets harder to maintain an accurate handle on them all without collecting and storing a great deal of information about them. As such, data quality becomes a key business priority.

Managing a database of accurate knowledge about customers remains a challenge, especially because it's not merely a one-time task. Instead, it requires constant vigilance to do it right. Companies need to check their information as they're collecting it, make sure it's right, then follow up early and often to verify that no inaccuracies seep in later. There's no rest for businesses that truly care about data quality.

According to Coyote Communications, tracking information about customers is a very important ingredient of business success. Expert Jayne Cravens notes that this requires a consistent level of effort, not merely one task.

"Inputting names into a customer database is not enough to keep database information up to date," Cravens stated. "Database managers should also set a regular maintenance schedule to make sure addresses are accurate, there are no duplicate records on the database, etc."

There are a few key areas to keep in mind:

Eliminating duplicates
Duplicate records are one of the most common problems that plague businesses' customer database. If two different employees across two different departments have both input the same customer, it can make for messy logistical issues that companies will need to correct later.

Understanding people's roles
A database should include other important details besides just a person's name and address. What about their relationship to the company? Is someone a loyal customer, a one-time buyer, or merely a person who's expressed interest? This kind of knowledge can help companies nurture relationships.

Following contact information closely
People's contact information changes all the time. Every time someone relocates, or switches email accounts, or gets a new phone, there's new information about them that becomes relevant. The smartest companies are the ones that follow up and stay aware of such changes.

Checking for completeness
It's not enough for companies' data about their customers merely to be accurate - in an ideal world, it would be complete as well. This is an area where companies can make improvements - perhaps by using data enhancement solutions to beef up their entries with more specific pieces of information.