How accurate and comprehensive is your customer data?
Data analysis is only as good as the quality and completeness of data obtained during the data query process. Ensuring that customer data is accurate (obtaining the exact data needed) and complete (making sure that this data is comprehensive) is the foundation from which your analysis should be based.
We have found that one of the most crucial, and often forgotten steps in querying customer data is to accurately and comprehensively define the customer for whom you will be conducting your research.
How well do you know your Enterprise customers in addition to their name, what they do, or where they are located?
- Have they ever changed their name?
- How many mergers and acquisitions have they endured and with whom?
- Have they ever divested? Which parts of the company have been divested?
- Have they ever acquired certain products / services outside of or within their industry?
- Do they have subsidiaries?
Most likely, many of your enterprise customers have experienced some, if not all of the above. Not being aware of these customer transformations – acquisitions, mergers and divestitures – throughout the company’s history can be detrimental in ensuring accurate and complete enterprise customer data querying.
What happens if your customer is NOT well defined, accurately defined or thoroughly defined?
When customers are not well defined, accurately defined or thoroughly defined, queries become insufficient, incomplete, over inflated and often inaccurate causing many data / customer mapping issues to occur during the query process and ultimately impacting report data results.
Too often, we hear from account teams, support personnel and regrettably customers, that they know their customer inventory reports are missing data – missing installed sites, shipment history, coverage history, devices, contract numbers – that they know currently exist on the account.
Too often we hear that data in customer inventory reports is inaccurate – installed sites and shipped to data are not correct, there are gaps in coverage.
Too often we hear that customer inventory reports include data that does not belong to that particular customer – Number of devices are inflated, data in general is inflated.
Bad Data Generated from Insufficiently Defined Customer Queries
The sample report below illustrates ‘bad data’ obtained when insufficiently defining the customer, therefore conducting insufficient or inaccurate queries. All data rows highlighted in yellow are questionable as to whether they belong to the target customer, ABC Laboratories.
How do you accurately and thoroughly define the customer?
There are various available sources to assist in defining and qualifying your customers. Those listed in this blog are the ones we strongly recommend. Using these sources to conduct customer research will ultimately help you accurately match customer records to legitimate / comprehensive customer data by:
- Identifying the correct name of the customer
- Obtaining names and brands currently & formerly used
- Gathering name abbreviations
- Identifying customers with similar company names
- Determining the name of the Parent company of the target customer
- Acquiring a list of Subsidiary companies throughout the history of the customer
- Identifying divested subsidiary companies or organizations
- Identifying franchises, concessions & dealerships (if they exist)
- Identifying mergers and acquisitions
External Sources used to Define and Quality your Customers
This research is the foundation of an accurate and comprehensive customer inventory report and should not be taken lightly.
Hoover’s is often viewed as one of the top enterprise-wide companies and decision maker solutions. Its database includes insight on approximately 85 million worldwide companies and 100 million decision makers. Hoover’s company profiles include editorial information, demographic details, financials, family trees, current news, C-suite and mid-level decision makers, plus much more. This content is supplemented by powerful list building tools that facilitate efficient prospecting, pipeline management, call preparation, and general business research.
Wikipedia contains information segmented into various sections about a specific company that may contain any or all of the following: history, subsidiaries, locations, mergers / acquisitions, logo, executives, headquarters, financial details, company brands, previous names of the company, markets, and business arenas.
Much of the same information in the Wikipedia site can be extracted from the Customer’s Website in addition to the following: Administrative offices, Retail stores, Hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, etc.
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) maintains a system, ‘EDGAR’ (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval) which can be extremely valuable with regards to identifying company merger and acquisition history along with subsidiary names.
Dun and Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet maintains a database of over 240 million companies globally and over 100 million professional contact names using a variety of sources including public records, trade references, telco providers, telephone interviews, print, digital and trade publications, among others.
News-worthy articles published with regards to the company (Wall street Journal, Businessweek) are worth researching.
After Conducting your Research and Defining your Customer
Once your customer has been thoroughly and accurately defined, the information identified and gathered on that customer account will assist you in determining customer name variations for use in querying. Use:
- All company names identified based on mergers, acquisitions, etc.
- Subsidiary names
- Acquired company names
- Company abbreviations / acronyms
- Look at parts of the company which may have been sold and if and when this information should be used for queries
When your list is complete, we recommend you review it with the customer and/or members of the account team to ensure its accuracy PRIOR to conducting your queries. A suggested agenda for the review meeting can be:
- Present findings
- Ask for confirmation and agreement of acquisitions, mergers etc.
- Confirm locations (states /cities in US, countries if global)
- Ask for approval of names to be used for your queries
To assist you in performing the steps introduced in this blog, refer to the table below.
Define Your Enterprise Customer
|Conduct Business Research using recommended external sources||Will enable accurate and comprehensive mapping to legitimate customer data.
|Identify customer name variations for query use||Research will identify the following for query use:
|Review customer name variations with customer / account team members||Gain approval to ensure name variation accuracy PRIOR to conducting queries.
|Run Queries||Run queries based on reviewed and approved name variations.|