Despite the relative ease and availability of customer data tools, many companies are still failing to unlock the full value of their data, according to a study by Prospect Swetenhams into problems with corporate databases.
The six month study examined data from a cross section of the company's clients, and found that most prospect data supplied to its data bureau division was accurate, but that customer data was failing to be exploited.
Problems with data processes
The lack of value gained from customer data was largely due to a range of problems surrounding the way in which data is collected, and in particular the online automation of the data collection process.
Commenting on the findings, Lindsey Sandom-Brown, head of client services for Prospect Swetenhams, said: "These days data is captured from all manner of sources, from call centres to the internet, and the formats in which it is captured frequently vary in different parts of the same organisation. In addition, the data is rarely captured with future marketing purposes in mind, which makes it far more difficult to unlock its true value."
Top issues with data
In fact, according to Sandom-Brown, many of the automated data processes used to clean up and match customer data records sometimes do more harm than good, often sacrificing relevance for accuracy. The top issues in addressing the effectiveness of customer data included formatting, duplication of records, and the presence of 'salacious' words which customers often type into online data capture sites themselves.
Although the company reports that many companies are now becoming more aware of the importance of customer data quality, some of their efforts are focused in the wrong areas, so some data that could have provided valuable customer insight is inevitably being lost or discarded while other less useful data is often retained.
"Ironically, our study found that the worse the state a company's database is in, the richer the exploration of that data can be," concluded Sandom-Brown. "It's only when you start to analyse it and play with data formats, and deal with duplications, that you realise the true value of the database."