Singapore businesses wary of contact data

Human error and poor data strategy to make sense of data collected top reasons cited by Singapore companies for not trusting contact information, new study reveals.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

More Singapore companies are implementing a documented data quality strategy but this has not stopped them from expressing distrust over the contact data they have collected due to human error and lack of an inadequate data quality strategy, a new survey has showed.

Released Wednesday, the Data Quality Survey by services company Experian stated that 88 percent of companies in Singapore had implemented a documented data quality strategy for their contact data. This data refers to the contact details of customers, prospects, business partners and employees stored by an organization, it explained.

Increased efficiency, indicated by 78 percent of respondents, and the enhancement of customer or citizen satisfaction (72 percent) were the top two reasons why Singapore companies deploy data quality processes, according to the survey findings. Those from Australia indicated likewise, while U.S. companies viewed cost savings as the second-most important reason.

The survey was conducted online between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30 last year and involved 1,321 organizations from seven countries--Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The 102 Singapore companies represented 8 percent of the total participants.

However, despite recognizing that contact data quality is important, 94 percent of respondents in the city-state expressed their distrust in the contact data collected by their companies, Experian noted. The top reason cited for this lack of trust was human error at 75 percent, followed by inadequate data quality strategy (36 percent) and lack of internal manual resources (34 percent), it added.

"While it is encouraging to see that companies recognize the importance of high data quality and have strategies in place to ensure data quality, the lack of trust highlights that these [strategies] are often not followed through," said Graeme Beardsell, chief customer development and marketing officer at Experian Asia-Pacific, in a media statement.

In fact, Singapore companies believed 24 percent of their contact data are inaccurate and this had a direct impact on their bottom lines, according to the survey results.

Organizations were also asked if they had encountered any of seven problems, which include loss of potential customers due to inaccurate data input and reduced customer satisfaction because it took too long for customers to fill in their contact information. The findings revealed that Singapore organizations experienced more of these problems, compared with those in the other countries.

Forty-four percent of Singapore companies said they have experienced three or more of these problems whereas only 33 percent of U.S. and U.K. respondents noted similar experiences, Experian said.

Simon Trilsbach, director of marketing services at Experian Southeast Asia, pointed out that inaccurate data represents "missed opportunities" for companies. Speaking to ZDNet Asia in a phone interview on Wednesday, the executive explained that a marketing e-mail message sent to an invalid account means one less person to convert into a customer, not to mention the waste in money for each missed e-mail.

In addition, the lack of accurate data means marketers cannot conduct "narrow-casting", he said. In other words, marketing executives would not have the necessary details to send highly relevant and tailored content to prospects and lessens chances for cross- and up-selling.

To address these challenges, Experian outlined a four-point approach to improving companies' data quality. The approach calls on businesses to reexamine their data quality strategy, align organizational processes with data quality strategy, select the right technology tools, and outline processes for continued measurement and improvement.

Trilsbach urged small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to focus specifically on choosing the right technology and improving the "manageability" aspect of collecting contact data to boost accuracy.

Large enterprises, on the other hand, should relook their existing data quality strategy and ensure it is aligned with their business goals, the executive said. This, in turn, can increase efficiency and save costs, while improving customer communications and service delivery, he noted.

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