Let’s start by stating the obvious; your House File is one of your most valuable business assets. It contains your customers – both past and present – and your leads and prospects. Marketing to your House File will always yield the best return on your marketing dollar. But, you will never reap its full potential unless you take the time and initiative to keep it healthy and in tip-top shape. With that in mind; let me introduce you to what I call my “7 Tips for House File Health…”
Decide exactly what information you want in your House File. Make a list of the data elements you need today, and for your anticipated needs in the future. More is better. Create written guidelines for your employees regarding this information. Implement thorough and regular training on this subject. Make sure your software is properly configured for all the data you want to collect. Finally, reevaluate your requirements on a regular basis.
Design your data entry systems to only accept properly formatted records. There is no such company named “NONE”, or “DON’T HAVE ONE”. Yet I have seen this exactly – time and time again. Make sure your fields are separated correctly. For Example; city, state, and zip code should always be separate. Make well defined fields in your software, and train your employees on how to correctly fill them in. Drop down lists, check boxes, pop-up hints: these are all ways to help weed out the human-error variations that can creep into your data.
Train your operators on a regular basis. Emphasize the importance of getting all the information, and entering it properly into the system. Explain the importance of this vital data quality step. Make sure there are written guidelines so there can be no ambiguity.
Keep your House File up to date. Implement changes, deletions, and additions in a timely manner. Make it easy for your customers to contact you regarding changes to their information – and solicit such contact with every “touch”.
Data Quality = Quality Data. Make sure your data complies with both the USPS regulations AND recommendations. Assign a “data steward” to become knowledgeable with these standards. CASS and NCOA your file on a regular basis (every 95 days for NCOA). And don’t be afraid to ask your service bureau for an honest, detailed evaluation of your data’s health and for recommendations on improving it.
OK. So you’ve only heard it for the last umpteen years or so… BACK UP YOUR DATA! Implement a scheduled backup at least once a day and keep a minimum of 14 days of backups on a rotating schedule. Lastly, always have a backup of the backups stored somewhere offsite.
Ongoing maintenance of your House File is just that – Ongoing. The above tips are just the start of what’s required to maintain a healthy House File. You need to constantly monitor your list to ensure errors aren’t creeping in. Refresher courses for your employees are also vital to ensure the proper procedures are being followed. Most importantly – don’t be afraid to modify your systems / procedures / rules as your needs change.