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The Cost of Duplicate Customer Data

duplicate customersIf your business has a large customer database, chances are you’ve ran into duplicate data issues at some point. If so, you know what a pain it can be to correct and how much it can cost your business. In hindsight, you may even realize the fact that proper data insertion to begin with can save your company valuable time and money in the long run.

Determine If You Have Duplicate Data

If you have a customer database, try searching/sorting your customer list by FirstName and LastName. This should give you a good idea of which customers MAY be duplicates. To know more certainly, also view the addresses and phone numbers associated with those customers. You may realize that you have several that share the same address and phone number, which are most likely, depending on your business, duplicate customers that should be combined into a single account.

Another thing to check to determine if you have duplicate data is to check if there are multiple customers with the same email address. Often husbands and wives will use the same email address; or wives will keep the same email address even when their name changes. You may have a Susan Smith in your system that is actually the same customer as a Susan Rockman just because she got married and changed names at some point, but her email stayed the same.

Consolidate The Data

Many times you’ll want to consolidate the duplicate data into a single record. Most likely that record will be the one with the most recent order, since that information should be the most updated in your records. There will be times that you’ll need to confirm consolidation through the customer first, and other times when you can just make the switch and it’s just fine. The second biggest tip we can give would be to make sure you check all the data manually, yes, MANUALLY! Don’t just leave the consolidation up to a computer program to do because you may wind up with messed up data if something goes wrong. This brings us to the biggest tip… BACK UP YOUR DATA before you do any consolidation. Checking data with MySQL SELECT statements is just fine, but before you write a single line of code that includes an UPDATE or INSERT command, back up your database!

Why Should You Care, How Can It Save You Money?

The cost of data replication has been driven down drastically the last several years, so there’s no real reason to do it for hard disk drive storage reasons. The real reason you’d want to consolidate is that it can save you time and money on reporting, advertising and good will when setting up a customer account login system.

Advertising – Would you rather market to 15,000 customers in your database and have multiple postcards go out to the same person, or would you rather save the postage and time to advertise to only the 13,800 unique customers you really have. Currently, standard postcards cost $0.34 to mail, plus the card itself for $0.05 = $0.39. Multiply that times the 1,200 duplicate customers you managed to consolidate and you’ll find you saved $468 off that single postcard mailing. That’s straight money in your pocket you can turn around and spend on more advertising and marketing.

Customer Accounts – If you’re looking to set up accounts online for your customer to log into, how can you properly do so with multiple customers having the same email address? It certainly makes it more difficult. Customer email addresses should be set as unique identifiers in your CMS. No two customers should ever really share the same primary email address. Many online services use the users email address instead of a username because they know that there can only be one, and that one email address is also the main method of communication, sole method of resetting the users password, and the sole method of help support and such regarding that customers shipments and sales.

Initial Prevention

Stopping customer data duplication is a simple matter of time, often less than a minute worth per customer. Right before you enter new customer information, ask them if they’ve ever been a customer before with you. If they say no, it only takes a minute to look up and make sure they weren’t and just don’t remember. For females, make sure not to be too picky on searching the last name, as that may have changed anyway. While this takes some time, it will be worth it in the end. Another solution would be for your CMS system to have some build-in fail-safe checks that cross-reference what you’re inputting and pop up a notification if it detects a possible duplicate.

Need Help Moving Forward?

If you have a small list of customer, you should be able to find duplicates by sorting and filtering in Microsoft Excel; but if you have a large customer database, you may require the help of a professional – That’s where we come in! We can work with your Access or MySQL databases and write scripts to help determine duplicates for you. Contact Us to discuss your particular situation.