As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 27th 2018
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

How clean is your customer data? Do you really have confidence in your data? A certain local bank still sends me text messages on system downtime more than two years after closing an account with them. My insurance company still does not know my location and had no idea that I was not issued with a new card until I produced an outdated one. Why does the bank still have my phone number in their database? Why is the insurance company not aware of my location despite picking up payments for almost a decade? Was my postal address updated after I filled in a form as required? Why does the system not show that I was never issued with an updated membership card? These are just but a few examples showing companies whose data might be in need of cleaning up. If you do not have full confidence in your data, plan for a clean-up. Remember that one customer whose data requires cleaning is in a segment of one. Unless customer data is cleaned-up, its quality remains questionable.

Clean data is accurate and complete. It has the updated customer information well captured and accessible when required. Such data enhances seamless customer engagement. For example, if you have a customer’s birth date, you can send them a special message or an offer on their birthday. Customer data is also a powerful information goldmine for every business. It is by accurately capturing customer data that businesses are for example able to track purchase history. It is therefore paramount for business to have a systematic way of capturing customer data, storing it and keeping it clean by regularly updating it and confirming its accuracy. If a customer changes their name, phone number, email address, location, etc., the same needs to be updated in the database. Left unattended, customer data becomes stale and its use may cause more harm than good. Knowing our customers requires that we have clean data relating to each one of them.

Data safety is another major concern for many customers. How safe is our data? Who has access to customer data? How many businesses have a policy to protect customer information? How easily can the customer information be hacked? Every business has a responsibility to protect customers’ private information from unauthorized use. I know for example that data that we give at the security desks is never safe. I can bet that those black books with ID and phone numbers can be easily accessed by anyone. In addition, giving our phone numbers to a business does not authorize for constant use in marketing promotions. Mobile phone companies are especially notorious for using their customers’ number without authorization. Businesses need to ask for permission to use the customer information for marketing purposes. Smart companies ensure that their data is not only clean but it is also kept safe and used only with permission.

A clean customer database is a major resource for every smart business. The responsibility of maintaining a clean database must not be put fully in the hands of IT professionals whose responsibility revolves around data safety. Those in charge of customer engagement must take up the responsibility of maintaining a clean and safe customer data.

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy