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Best practices: Creating and Maintaining A Clean Database
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Best practices: Creating and Maintaining A Clean Database


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  • Hello everyone. My name is Jenny Sharpe, Program Specialist here at Experian QAS and run marketing programs within our government, utilities and education sectors. Our topic for today’s discussion revolves around best practices that Experian QAS has produced around creating and maintaining a clean database. We thought this would be a good topic as we get a lot of questions around once an organization has done the initial clean of their database what needs to be done to maintain the accuracy. So with that lets move onto the agenda.
  • I am very pleased to have Erin Haselkorn here with me today. Erin is responsible for our finance, insurance and PR efforts and works extensively in obtaining the most up to date research in data quality. Together, we have created a six step process to help clean and maintain ones database. These steps can help your organization manage and have the most accurate contact information possible. Before we jump into the 6 steps lets take a look at what contact data management is and why it is important.
  • So what do we mean when we say contact data management? QAS defines it as a proactive validation and upkeep strategy that focuses on postal addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers. It’s important to proactively check new contact data elements, as well as continuously review existing details. You will see that the best practices we will be sharing in a bit encompasses those steps. I know that we have listeners today across a number of industries, including higher education, retail, insurance, banking, and government. And while each industry leverages contact data for different purposes, there are a number of similar benefits that we can review. No matter the industry, more accurate contact data will: Improve communications & responses Ability to market, cross-sell/Timely delivery of products and services/Bill collection Reduce unnecessary costs Wasted printing and postage costs/Efficiency of call center personnel, back-office staff Enhance customer service efficiency The right contact data + the right follow up = Improved customer & prospect relationships
  • So here are the best practices we have comprised at Experian QAS around ways to clean and maintain a clean database. The first step is understanding your data. By having an understanding of the information contained in your database it allows organizations to improve operations and communications giving insight into data quality challenges and allowing managers to better select solutions for their organization. Step 2 is clean existing data: By cleaning your existing data you obtain a fresh slate to work off of which will help down the road in all of your data quality analysis. Step 3 is remove duplicate records. By doing this step you are able to have a better sense of what your database actually looks like Step 4 is enhance and update data. There are sources out there that you can use to get the most complete picture of your customer or prospect. Step 5 is Verifying data during all capture processes. Making sure there is a standardized process to verify data at all capture points removes the potential for bad data to get back into your database The last step is to continue to enhance, update, and learn. The thing to note is that once you get your database clean the work doesn’t stop there. It is a continuous process that must be preformed on a regular basis.
  • Erin, could you give us an idea of what types of controls businesses could have in place?
  • And this exercise could be done across all industries
  • In speaking with customers I know that sometimes the location of their business is in one state and their call center could be located in a completely different area of the country. They’ve said that different accents have caused problems for them by misinterpreting what has been said.
  • Who would typically review the data in the processes you just mentioned? I’m sure it would vary from industry to industry or even organization to organization.
  • Lumped into two categories: Pro software is front end AV that can sit on a PC, be a SaaS, or web based. We also have real time Email and Phone verification Our back end cleansing solutions include our batch process, bulk processing, and phone and email Our Enhancement solutions include a de-duplication tool QAS Unify and NCOAlink service. In addition Experian EMS has a host of other enhancement products and services.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Best Practices: Creating and Maintaining a Clean Database
    • 2. Welcome! Introductions and Overview of Today’s Session
      • Experian QAS reviews best practices for creating and maintaining a clean database
        • Today’s speakers:
          • Erin Haselkorn
            • Marketing Program Specialist, Experian QAS
          • Jenny Sharpe
            • Marketing Program Specialist, Experian QAS
        • Steps to obtaining and retaining good contact data
    • 3. Why is contact data management important?
      • Improve communications and increase responses
        • Ability to market, cross-sell
        • Timely delivery of products and services
        • Bill collection
      • Reduce unnecessary costs
        • Wasted printing and postage expenses
        • Efficiency of call center personnel, back-office staff
      • Enhance customer service
      The right contact data + the right follow up = Improved customer & prospect relationships
    • 4.
      • Step 1: Understand your data
      • Step 2: Clean existing data
      • Step 3: Remove duplicate records
      • Step 4: Enhance and update data
      • Step 5: Verify data during all capture processes
      • Step 6: Continue to enhance, update, and learn
      Steps to Clean and Maintain a Clean Database
    • 5. Step 1: Understand your data
      • Key questions every organization should ask:
        • Where does the data come from?
          • Who enters it (customers or staff)?
          • Do they want to get it right?
        • How is it formatted?
        • What, if any, controls are in place?
          • Required fields
          • Data entry training
          • Performance metrics
    • 6. Step 1: Understand your data Build a Data Spider Multi- Channel Retailer Web/Online Call Center Mail/Fax Stores Fulfillment Marketing Customer Service Finance
    • 7. Step 1: Understand your data Outline the Challenges of Data Capture
      • Web/Online
        • People aren’t paying attention
        • Typos
      • Call Center
        • Misinterpret what a customer is saying
        • Fat-fingering
      • Mail/Fax (Manual Entry)
        • Poor handwriting
        • Incomplete information
      • Stores
        • High pressure environment
        • Customers unwilling to provide contact details
    • 8. Step 2: Clean existing data
      • Review Your Data
        • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, manually review records to see how it actually looks
      • Audit Completeness
        • Completeness dictates if fields need to be filled in via appending
      • Clean and Standardize
        • Leverage 3 rd party data as well as your own
      • Don’t Underestimate Addresses
        • It’s one of the strongest pieces of data you have
      • This is the traditional scrubbing, batching or “old school” cleaning
    • 9. Step 3: Remove duplicate records Can you merge first?
      • If possible, merge records into a centralized master file
        • Results in a singular view of the customer
        • You can better understand and segment your data
        • Economies of scale on de-dupe, append and enhance
      • BUT – This isn’t always an option as it depends on infrastructure
    • 10. Step 3: Merge and/or de-dupe records
      • Decide what elements to match on
        • Matching elements determine where duplicates can be found
      • Use a tool with “fuzzy” or “flex” matching
        • This allows for a greater match rate
        • Helps to find duplicate records that may not have been identified with more rigid matching
      Match Type Example Address/Household Physical + Name or Email Phonetic Dougherty = Dorty Acronym National Broadcasting Company = NBC Character Occurrence Wilson = Wislon Table-based William = Bill = Will = Billy Element Matching Mr. J. Smith = John Smith = Smith John Custom Field Shoe Size, SSN, Customer Number
    • 11. Step 4: Enhance and update data
      • 75% of organizations use at least one data enhancement set (Source: Dynamic Markets Limited, January 2009)
        • Perform NCOA Link® processing
          • USPS ® processes over 43 million permanent Change of Address (COA) orders each year
          • 15% of Americans and 19% of business move annually
        • Append geo-demographic data including:
          • Geographical information
          • Latitude/longitude coordinates
          • Cross sell ability
          • Risk
          • Lifestyle
      • Segment your file – increase your ability to target customers
    • 12. Step 5: Verify data during all capture processes
      • Know where your data is being collected and entered
        • Point of sale
        • Website
        • Call center
        • Paper forms
      • Set expectations
        • Have a standardized process in place so that all information is being captured in the same way
      • Verify against a reputable third party source
    • 13. No Verification or Cleansing Interactive version at
    • 14. Post-Capture Cleansing Only Interactive version at
    • 15. Cleansing and Verification at One Capture Point Interactive version at
    • 16. Cleansing and Verification at Some Capture Points Interactive version at
    • 17. Cleansing and Verification at all Capture Points Interactive version at
    • 18. Step 6: Continue the cycle - enhance, update, and learn
      • Data changes constantly and needs regular “check-ups”
      • Continuous database maintenance allows for:
        • Better assessment of the quality of data after each strategy is implemented
        • Ensuring that old data is refreshed and continues to perform for future campaigns
    • 19. QAS Products & services Real-time verification Clean & enhance
      • Clean
      • QAS Batch (PC Based)
      • QAS Bulk Processing (Web Based)
      • Phone & Email Batch (Service)
      • Enhance
      • QAS Unify (PC Based)
      • NCOA Link® (Service)
      • Address
      • QAS Pro (PC Based)
      • QAS Pro On Demand (Software as a Service)
      • QAS Pro Web (Web Based)
      • QAS Pro API (Integration Toolkit)
      • Phone and Email
      • QAS Phone (Service)
      • QAS Email (Service)
    • 20.  
    • 21. Please visit for more information.