Three ways to take care of your customer data

Sponsored post by Scott Logie

Whatever the size of your business, keeping your data clean not only makes good business sense but it is also a legal requirement: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that you keep your data clean, irrespective of the size of your business.

Why keeping it clean matters

While it might be the big data breaches and associated huge fines that grab all the headlines, not keeping personal data up-to-date can still have repercussions for SMEs. For example, in August this year, a Sussex man was the first to launch a High Court action when a recruitment company carried out a DBS check using a wrong address.

He claimed that the SME failed to keep accurate personal data and that his rights had been breached. And there are plenty of SMEs listed on the ICO’s enforcement action page, the independent body that upholds information rights and data privacy for individuals in the UK.

Despite GDPR being more than three years old, the number of cases and fines has surged recently, with data showing that the cumulative number of GDPR violations increased 113.5 percent between July 2020 and July 2021. Last year, the number of fines was 332: this has risen to 709 in 2021.

Our own research chimes with this seeming lack of understanding around GDPR. We recently conducted a survey into SMEs’ attitudes towards and treatment of their customer data and we found that – while 85 percent of the small- to medium-sized businesses in the UK are familiar with GDPR – more than half are still not cleaning their data and therefore not adhering to the GDPR’s legal requirements.

Our survey also found that three-fifths (60 per cent) of SMEs do not hold their customer and prospect data in a CRM or other database: a surprisingly high figure given that businesses need to maintain contact with their customers for sales and marketing purposes, especially after the upheavals and challenges of the past 18 months.

Twenty-five per cent of those with a CRM indicated they did not run data cleaning or update processes: this rose to 61 percent of SMEs overall. The GDPR requires all customer data to be clean and up-to-date in order to be compliant and legal.

Research from The Software Bureau in March this year also found that the rate of data decay has accelerated by 0.5 percent per month due to the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s rate of mortality and home movers, meaning that annual data decay now stands at 37.5 percent per year.

In July 2020 the introduction of the stamp duty holiday resulted in the most buoyant property market since 2008 with a 10 percent year-on-year rise in home movers. Tragically, the pandemic has also led to a significant rise in the UK death rate, which is currently running 15 percent higher than average.

This high rate of data decay means it’s never been more important for SMEs to review the quality of their customer data. If you’re looking to make the most of your customer and prospect data, here’s how to do it while also ensuring you are GDPR-compliant throughout.

Store it!

First of all, storing your customer data in some form of CRM or database will be a huge help. Irrespective of the format it is held in, centralising the data you hold into some kind of CRM or database is important because it makes the storage, management and upkeep so much easier and, as a result, any marketing processes much more efficient and effective too.

Clean it!

Article 5 of the GDPR requires that personal data be kept clean and accurate or be deleted. Consumers expect it and the law requires it, but on top of that, it also delivers massive cost savings, better ROI and reduces the risk of brand damage.

Choosing a trusted solution to optimise the quality of your data and maximise compliance is now business critical. Synonymous with data quality since the early 1990s, REaD Group’s comprehensive data cleaning suite is the best and most accurate in the UK.

We have a number of market-leading products. The Bereavement Register (TBR) is the most efficient and accurate way to remove anyone who has passed away from your marketing databases – reducing the risk of reputational damage, keeping your data clean and enhancing campaign performance. Data is collected directly from the bereaved and/or third party sources of actual deaths.

The Gone Away Suppression file (GAS) is the most accurate and up-to-date solution for identifying people who have relocated. Validated across multiple, trusted sources we receive a large number of consented data sets from organisations that have been notified when someone moves in or moves out of a property. This includes information from the government or local authorities and blue-chip organisations that have a transactional relationship with their customers.

By cleaning your data regularly, you will reduce the risk of having to delete data and reduce your marketable database; avoid heavy fines for non-adherence to the GDPR; and save time, money and resources by not marketing to people who will not receive the communication.

Optimise it!

Combining the most accurate and comprehensive data available in the UK with the best technology, REaDOnline is the definitive self-serve online data management platform. It enables you to efficiently and effectively manage and maximise the value of your customer and prospect data. It also reduces the costs and risk caused by incorrect data; maximises data quality to enhance targeting and results; and effectively standardises your data to improve matching.

By storing, cleaning and optimising your data, not only can you be confident that your data is clean, compliant and up-to-date, but you’ll also reap the benefits in other ways: by saving time and money avoiding wasteful marketing activities, and reducing the risk of reputational damage.

Scott Logie is Customer Engagement Director at REaD Group and Chair of the Customer Engagement Committee of the DMA (Data & Marketing Association).