Here is my recent experience as a consumer and why I felt this “store” in question needs a real good investment on improving the quality and de-duplication of data.

I often visit this department store which sells variety of merchandise. Obviously, I and my wife realize the fact that we don’t need to visit this shop every month as the prices here are comparatively higher than other similar stores. But I think their promotional coupon (guaranteed to reach our mail box every month) is doing the intended job just perfectly; attracting both of us to spend on unnecessary stuff.

When I visited this store couple of months back, I was asked by the checkout associate to sign up for email promotions to get another $5 waiver on my current purchase amount. Who doesn’t like waivers? I instantly signed up and wore my winning smile.

Not to my surprise, within few days the store started sending promotional emails. And as obvious as it can get, the promotions are daily emails which claim to have best prices in the market. But what nettled me was the fact that there were two copies of email dropping into my inbox every day!!!

Now, why would they be sending two emails with same content? I could only think of below 2 reasons.

    • There is a bug in the application which sends these emails. (My geeky side thinks of this first).
    • They have 2 copies of my email address stored in their database.

Fix Duplicate DataI have a strong reason to believe it’s the latter, since the name spelled in the emails was slightly different – One said Prashanta & the other Prashant; a clear indication that they have got 2 duplicate records of mine in their system.

Next thing I tried was to cancel their newsletter. When I unsubscribed for the first time, I got a notification saying this will take 7 business days (Isn’t that super slow in this fast-forward world? Are we in 21st century yet?). And it sure did work; I started getting only one copy of the email after about a week. Well, the good thing about it was, I got to choose which name I want them to use.

Above instance might be a simple case of duplicate input of a customer data into the marketing system. My point is, many organizations today don’t have a standard process to identify who their customer is. As we all know, the data entry errors can get worse and can have catastrophic effects. The wrong input of customer data is a common phenomenon considering most of it is done manually. The good news is there are applications available in the market today that have quality control and powerful matching functionalities to help organizations reduce (if not fully remove) duplicates.

The marketing campaigns which are run should concentrate on actual number of “real” customers the store is getting instead of counting email addresses which were gathered. Otherwise, there isn’t an outcome which benefits both the parties. The customer gets pestered by insistent emails as in the case above and the organization ends up having wrong information about customer leading to higher data management cost. As long as there is no accurate and complete view of customer, significant amount of investment by these organizations keeps going down the drain.