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In 1790, Paris wanted to inform the officials of Seix, a little village near Toulouse, that their request to make their town the capital of their municipality had been refused. They sent their message in a white envelope to the village of Seix.

Claudia Martinez

The letter arrived … on June 5, 2009. Two-hundred and twenty years after being sent. How could this happen?

Because of a small error in the address, the letter went to the village of Saix, instead of Seix. The French Revolution passed. The Titanic sank. We invented cars and airplanes. The internet changed the world. And the letter arrived two centuries too late.

Tiny errors in data can have big consequences.

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Human error aside, sometimes we forget to associate data with the people behind the data. People update their lives often: They change jobs, addresses, phone numbers; they have kids, get hacked, and grow old. And with these changes, data becomes inaccurate. With those inaccuracies introduced, it’s challenging to provide great service.

So here’s the tricky part: How do you make sure your data is safe from these problems?

Reliable data is key to proper personalization

Information is one of the most powerful tools a company can harness — thanks to the information gleaned from collected data, we can understand our customers, our competitors, and our market situation and develop products, strategies and tactics to grow and evolve in the business world.

If that data is incorrect, however, or if we don’t have access to it, we lose the advantage it generates. We lose the possibility of using that valuable information.

In the SaaS environment, personalized interaction can determine if a customer stays with you or goes to your competitor. And reliable data is the key to proper personalization.

3 ways to maintain your customer data’s integrity

During the 2017 NRF BIG Show, Forrester Consulting interviewed around 80 industry pros about the key tech investments for 2017. The most popular advice was clear: “Focus on tech that creates personal customer connections, reduces pain points along the shopper’s journey, and optimizes operational efficiencies.”

For that reason, it’s crucial our tools contain up-to-date and accurate customer contact data. Here’s how to stay on top of that.

1. Regular housekeeping

One study found that databases among several companies in the UK had up to 30 percent duplicate records.

Duplicate records are costly — when these companies began installing CRM systems, they realized they were paying to send more than one email to the same recipient, and confusing their support team any time double-registered customers needed help.

Many companies nowadays do regular housekeeping for their central CRM. They clean up duplicates, enriched data, etc. But often our support tools don’t get the same treatment. The use of tools to replicate the housekeeping being done in the central CRM to other environments in your SaaS stacks can be an easy and effective solution for that.

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2. Ensuring data availability

If you manage to have quality data but you can’t access it at the right moment, you’re losing money. When we talk about “data availability,” we mean the right data a couple clicks away from the people who are supposed to have access to it.

If you are currently providing email support for your customers, you’ve probably noticed how from time to time the same customer writes from a different email address. This has a clear explanation: Most customers don’t worry about the email address they’re using to contact their providers. They may be using their private email, the one from work, their throwaway, a functional mailbox inside their company, and so on.

What they don’t realize is that the “from-address” is the reference through which your support tool threads up past or ongoing conversations. If your support tool is not aware of the full contact data, it will create new conversations instead of linking them up with previous ones. This has detrimental effects on the quality with which you can support your customers.

To give full service to our customers, we not only must have a view on related conversations, but a support tool that shows the most relevant customer information in-line, such as an account ID, customer status, and the full contact data to make sense of discrepancies. When all of this data can be on the same screen, your team can have the full picture of the client.

3. Restricting access

Restrictions that limit the access to the database ensure only qualified employees can create new data records. It can be relatively easy to establish these regulations in small companies where only a few people have direct contact with customers.

In other types of businesses with constant data entry and multiple agents or points of sale, it is rather unproductive to create so many restrictions. But without restrictions, we’re more prone to human error. If, after the first data entry, there are two other apps in your SaaS stack to which you must also introduce data, there is a triple risk of mistakes.

The best solution in these cases is to make sure you can count on good software that gives priority to the apps or platforms you rely on the most. This software must be able to map fields in a smart way between your different contact lists and sync them, preferably in real-time.

Good data is worth the effort

Reliable data can guarantee reliable information, and therefore the ability to offer accurately personalized customer service.

Reliable data is difficult to come by, and much time and effort must be invested in collecting it and gleaning the pertinent information present in it it. Fortunately, we now have tools at our disposal to obtain quality data which provides us with the building blocks for our businesses’ success.

Claudia Martinez

Claudia Martinez is a Marketing Associate at PieSync, which auto-syncs your contact data across all the apps your sales, marketing and support teams use.