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Master Data Managements Cleans up Customer Information

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
B2B Content producer Self-employed

Paul is a seasoned (basically old) freelance B2B content producer. Through the years, he has written more than 10,000 items (blogs, news stories, white papers, case studies, press releases and...

  • Member since 2011
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  • Dec 15, 2020

Servicing customers nowadays is quite challenging. Utilities expanded the number of ways that they interact with them, especially since the pandemic hit. Consequently, customer information is stored in many different applications, and wide gaps among data sources exist. Bridging those gaps so every customer service employee has a consistent view of the client is possible, but the task requires that checks be put into place.

Utilities are broken down into departments that provide different types of support during the customer journey: marketing, sales, product delivery, and after sales support. Lots of employees perform various tasks, and a wide --- and growing – variety of applications enable them to complete their work. 

One problem is that these applications collect customer information in different ways. Consequently, data resides in numerous autonomous systems that store the information uniquely. One system has a 16-character field for customers’ last name, and another will be 64 characters long. The inconsistencies prevent applications from sharing common records. Because the customer information is fractured and scattered across the organization, employees lack a comprehensive, consistent view of all interactions a customer has with a utility.

Compounding the problem, application vendors do not spend as much time on data quality, In fact, many applications do not check for duplication when “new” customer information is entered, so one person’s information can be entered in multiple places, creating more confusion.

Master Data Management’s Benefits

Master Data Management (MDM) solutions are designed to address these issues. They clean up the various inconsistencies, a process dubbed data cleansing. They normalize fields and field values, so they are consistent. Cleansing starts with mundane tasks, like identifying and fixing typos when information was entered. The MDM solution may also add missing details from either internal or external (business directories, registers, public records) sources. The potential benefits are significant. Customer service team has more consistent information on hand when interacting with clients.  As a result, customer satisfaction increases.

But the work can be challenging. Utilities want to make data entry more consistent, but human error arises. Employees are not compensated based on data hygiene. They are often quite busy, move from one task to the next ASAP. Consequently sometimes, they do not follow best practices fully and data inconsistencies arise. So, utilities need to add a step or two to ensure that such practices are followed whenever customer information is entered or updated.

Utilities want their customer data to be clean. Because of the way that systems are designed, most create dirty data. Energy corporations can improve data quality, but only when they recognize the human as well as technical shortcomings that create dirty data.

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