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4 common data capture errors (and how to solve them)

Here we are again, as the biggest shopping season of the year is about to kick off. Over the coming months, shoppers will flood retail websites and stores in droves searching for the best deals on everything from the latest tech gadget to holiday gifts.

Your website will often be the first point of contact for prospective customers, and the data it generates will support marketing, shipping, billing, stock management and much more.

The basics still matter

In today’s digital world with the amount of information being generated, managing data can be complex. BUT the basics still matter - and not getting the simple things right like customer details can have a bigger impact on your brand’s efficiency and the customer’s experience than you may think. A recent study by Experian, 64% of businesses said that bad data undermines their ability to provide an excellent customer experience and we all know the impact that can have on reputation and loyalty.

With good customer data and you’ll see a host of benefits that include a smoother checkout experience, increased confidence that your deliveries will reach the customer and improved marketing campaign response rates. That’s not to mention the efficiency savings that can result from having to spend less time manually correcting issues.

So a great place to start is by capturing the right details in the first place. That means it’s vital that the contact data forms on your website create a great first impression and perform their job as quickly and accurately as possible for both you and your customer.

Not validating customer details in the first place is often the cause of some fundamental data quality errors. So let’s take a look at some of the most common ones we see and I’ll explain just how easy it is to avoid them.

What are the most common data quality problems?

1) Mistyped information

Without safeguards in place to validate the information that your customers are entering online, there’s a high chance that they may well mistype some elements. It’s easily done – especially when more people use mobiles to fill in forms these days. So what’s the big deal? Manual data entry can cause big headaches to businesses.Consider the impact of having an incorrect postcode for a retailer – how can they deliver the customer’s parcel? What will the customer think when it doesn’t arrive? How long will it take to resolve the issue? What may seem a ‘minor’ data quality issue can have a big impact further down the line.

2) Incorrect emails

What is surprising, is that many businesses see the value in validating postal addresses – but often not email addresses. Especially when it’s so easy to mistype an email address, and missing just one single character can render it useless. Why wouldn’t you validate emails in today’s digital world? The impact of not doing this is massive when you consider the reasons that brands need them - delivery notifications, purchase confirmations, marketing campaigns etc. That’s not even mentioning that you can get blacklisted for sending messages to incorrect or outdated email addresses – meaning it doesn’t just affect one email address, but your entire database.

3) Missing information

Another common data entry problem is handling missing values. Anyone who has had to manage data will be familiar with this frustration. Imagine you have received a customer complaint via your website and the form data is missing the last two digits from the telephone number. You need to take immediate action but you’re unable to call the customer because the telephone number is incomplete, or even missing completely. You could email them but you can’t be sure the email address is valid or still being used, and it might take days for them to respond.

4) Bad formatting

We all have our own individual preferences about how we format our personal information. An example might be phone numbers and whether they have the country code at the start. This can require time-consuming data preparation activity. You might have to spend time adding in the necessary fields, or moving data back into the right field once it’s in your system Not only does this slow data capture down, it can introduce errors into previously clean data.

How to start fixing common data problems

For brands to keep their data up to date, they should look at how they manage their data processes and utilise tools to do much of the heavy lifting. The best place to start is data capture -  making sure the contact data you collect is right as it enters your systems.

Sound easy? It is. Adding simple data validation on your website will allow your business to prevent errors happening in the first place and protect your customer data – a key strategic asset. The most effective type of data validation solution is one that checks all three types of data (address, email and phone) at the point of entry, usually your website. As soon as the customer starts to type, their details are auto-populated and checked. This means less time spent typing for your customers and more accurate data for you.

To help you see just want a difference it can make, we have just launched a 14-day free trial of our three data validation tools – address, email and phone validation.

In less than 10 minutes, you can install address, email and mobile validation on your own website, and see for yourself how you could have clean and accurate data to support billing and shipping, marketing, lead generation, and everything in between. Try it for yourself.