Let’s face it. Your company’s address data is messy. In fact, you probably don’t even have an address verification and validation system in place and much has been said on the cost of bad data.
- High return mails.
- Deliveries to fake, invalid, corrupt addresses.
- Analysis and reports based on flawed data.
…are just some of the problems caused by flawed data. Additional problems include operational inefficiency, chaotic processes, angry customers and loss of business reputation – all which could be mitigated only if you take your data problem seriously.
- Clean your data.
- Dedupe your data.
- Verify your data.
- Validate your data.
- Keep your data clean.
Here’s everything you need to know how to keep your company’s address data clean.
What Does Poor Address Data Quality Mean?
Well for starters, poor data refers to any data that suffers from quality issues such as fake entries, invalid, corrupt, erroneous or incomplete entries. Much has been written on data quality and the cost of poor data. An easy to understand example of bad data is that of postal address data.
According to the US Postal Service’s report in 2013, approx. 5.6 billion mails could not be delivered as addressed. This is just the cost of processing the mail by the USPS. The company incurs additional costs of return mails and mails that go wasted because of incorrect data.
According to Computer World, assuming an average cost of $0.50 per mailing, there’s about a wasted $3.4 billion waste because of incorrect address data.
But what does poor data quality mean and how does it occur? Let’s take a look.
Address data that:
- Suffers from inconsistencies – for e.g. recording only block names, but not street names or using abbreviations instead of actual names.
- Suffers from incompleteness – addresses without ZIP codes.
- Suffers from invalidity – addresses that are fake or erroneous.
- Suffers from flawed information – wrong house numbers, misspelled street names, wrong codes etc.
…is considered as bad address data.
This occurs because of:
- Human error at the point of data entry – a customer jotting down an incomplete address.
- Data collection failure – a web form that does not have data controls in place
- System challenges – difficult to use legacy systems that make address recording difficult.
- Data loss – migration or digital transformation activities that cause data loss.
Inaccurate addresses cost businesses hundreds of million dollars yearly. The reasons stem from loss of products to wasted materials, and of course customer dissatisfaction.
A business’s accuracy is directly linked to its reputation. A client’s standardized address allows for proper delivery of products and important mailings, and most of all increase client/customer confidence.
But all is not doomed.
There are multiple solutions out there that you can use to ensure that your address data is verified and validated by the government’s address database before you put it to use. Let’s explore this further.
What is Address Verification and Validation?
Simply put, the address in your database is matched against a government’s database to determine its validity and authenticity. But this verification and validation is just part of the process – in fact, it is the last part of the whole process.
To make address verification and validation possible, you must do the following first:
Clean Your Data: You cannot match your address data with a government database unless your data is cleansed. This means the data must be free of typos, errors, spelling mistakes, punctuation between characters, negative spacing and all the other nitty-gritty issues that destroy the quality of your data.
Remove Duplicates: If your address data is stored in disparate data sources and is handled by different people from different departments, chances are you will have at least five different records for the same customer. You will also have the significant challenge of determining which of these records are the most current or valid, hence, it’s of utmost importance that any and all redundancies in your data is removed.
Create a Single Source of Truth: To remove duplicates, you will have to match data from disparate sources, merge them and derive one singular truth. Only when you get this master record can you finally match with the government’s database and verify your address. It’s important that you create this single source of truth to have data that you can use and trust.
Verify and Validate Addresses: Once you have a master data record of updated addresses, you can verify this address against the government database to see if the address is valid. This is the final step of the process and one that can help identify invalid and incorrect addresses, thus cutting down the costs of poor address data.
Sounds Easy, Let Me Get My Team On It
We’ve seen this happen so many times. Most clients assume they can pull off an address verification process in-house. A year later, they come back to us after having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted effort. Companies often have a knee-jerk reaction to problems with data, going on a hiring spree, calling in data experts, launching in-house processes and programs that have little chance of success.
Fact is, data quality can easily be achieved through solutions that automate the process. The solution identifies issues with your data, removes duplicates, verifies your address and validates it – all in a matter of minutes. These solutions run on a combination of fuzzy matching and deterministic algorithms that perform complex matching at rapid speed. If you get a team to do this, they’ll spend months on creating, testing and validating algorithms before they can work on resolving the core problem itself.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the costs of getting an address verification and validation process completed in-house.
See the costs ballooning each year? Rest assured, with all this expenditure, you still won’t get data that is accurate and up to the mark. Why go through all this when you could easily get the software to help you achieve data quality goals?
How an Address Verification Software Helps You Achieve Address Validation
A CASS certified address verification software like DataMatch Enterprise is a powerful tool that lets you check the quality of your data and verify it against a government database like the USPS or Canada Post. Address verification with DataMatch Enterprise is just part of a bigger picture. Being primarily a data preparation and data matching tool, it allows you to profile your data to discover errors, match and merge disparate data sources and finally lets you create a new master record that you can choose to update in real-time or in batches.
This automated solution takes the burden off you and gives you access to regularly updated data without requiring any human intervention. Designed for both business users and technical experts, DataMatch Enterprise can be used by anyone in your organization after an initial training session.
In Conclusion: Your address data is more useful than you might think. Sure, you may not be sending out promotional mails and newsletters anymore, but that data is instrumental in helping you make key business operations – including the audience you want to target for an online campaign, the geocoding ads you want to run and so on. Regardless of the use of address data, one point is clear – your business cannot afford inaccurate data.
Want to see how we can help you with address verification? Talk to our solution architect and let us help you make sense of your data!