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Harcourt Education

Harcourt Education reduce costs and boost customer satisfaction by implementing real-time address capture

Harcourt Education uses real-time address capture to streamline the order process. To reduce contact data inaccuracy and improve deliveries and overall customer service, they required a solution that guaranteed absolute accuracy."We needed a customer-friendly, easy to install web solution that could support our growing online purchases and produce address details in a standard format."


The customer website is a growing part of the Harcourt Education business, with 50,000 credit card customers to date, including teachers, students and parents. In total, the company processes nearly 10,000 orders a year for books and education materials online. Whilst this is a great medium for Harcourt to capture customer sales, the process of taking and completing an order can sometimes be a headache for the company.

Occasionally, automatic order processing could fail and some deliveries were sent to the wrong address, or never sent at all. As a result of failed deliveries, customer services staff had to re-enter orders manually, leading to extended delivery times, customer dissatisfaction and, more alarmingly, an increase in the cost of a sale.

Ian Cavey, E-learning and Online Manager at Harcourt Education, estimated that as many as 10 per cent of the orders taken online contained incorrect contact details. This meant that over 1,000 orders a year, with a total sales value of over £100,000 were at risk. This also put increasing pressure on staff and pushed up the cost of sale for every order.


To reduce contact data inaccuracy and improve deliveries and overall customer service, Harcourt Education required a solution that guaranteed absolute accuracy.

In June 2005, Harcourt Education implemented real-time address capture, an award-winning online data capture solution. It brings together Experian Data Quality’ experience of rapid contact data capture and web service technologies, ensuring the integrity of customer data. The implementation took just two days and was expected to produce dramatic results.

Ian Cavey comments: “Life before Experian Data Quality was all about trying to decipher customer addresses that had been inputted incorrectly. For us, this was effectively pouring money down the drain by re-delivering items that should have reached customers first time round. Now that the product is up and running, we expect the current 10 per cent level of inaccurate contact data to drop to zero. The format of the website has been changed so that it is virtually impossible for customers to enter their details incorrectly.”

The implementation of real-time address capture will make Harcourt Education’s customer website really simple to use. It offers just two fields for customers to enter their address details – their premise number and postcode.

Powered by real-time address capture, which uses an enhanced version of the Royal Mail Postcode Address File, the website returns a full address for the customer to validate. These details then transfer automatically to Harcourt’s purchase and distribution system in a customised layout, ensuring accurate data is used consistently throughout the organisation.

Timely processing of information and delivery of the final product is critical for Harcourt to ensure that its brand is recognised as a trusted supplier of quality higher education books. Experian Data Quality’s data management products help companies capture the right data and keep it correct through time. Harcourt recognised the importance of capturing accurate data through its growing web channel to improve customer service and the bottom line.

Cavey concludes on why he chose Experian Data Quality: “We selected real-time address capture because it is a high quality product that comes with high quality support. Other businesses within the Reed Elsevier group have worked with Experian Data Quality and were very positive about the company and its products. Since selecting real-time address capture, it has won an industry award because of its superior functionality over other contact data management products in the market. We are very satisfied with our choice of data accuracy supplier.”


Since the implementation of real-time address capture, Harcourt Education has achieved excellent results. It ensures that the website is easy for customers to use, but also maintains that orders are processed in the quickest time possible and goods are delivered promptly to customers.

Benefits are not just limited to cost savings for Harcourt Education; the Data Protection Act requires companies holding information on customers to ensure the information is accurate and up to date.

A reduction in incorrect address formats will have a dramatic effect in bringing down the costs in reprocessing deliveries. Previously, over £100,000 of orders were not processed correctly first time. Now this is rectified, money will no longer be spent on re-mailing items. Harcourt Education also estimated that up to one working week a year was spent dealing with these issues, which cost money in terms of resource to resolve problems. Now sales support staff are able to focus on taking accurate customer orders 100 per cent of the time.

Not only has it reduced our costs, but it also means that staff can focus on taking orders and boosting customer satisfaction.

Ian Cavey - E-learning & Online Manager, Harcourt Education

Read more about the software Harcourt Education use:

Real-time Address Capture