Don’t use your data this way

bad-hr-analytics-dataLast week, I wrote a post titled Big Data Starts with Data Management. In that post, I wrote:

Starting with data management will help mitigate these risks since a good data management approach allows organizations to keep data quality in mind from the beginning of a big data project.

Data management is a key aspect of big data projects. There’s no doubt about that.

Today, I want to share a real-world story of one company that has poor (or perhaps no) data management processes and how the lack of good processes could potentially push clients away.

This story starts in 1996 when I purchased a 1995 Chevrolet Blazer. I took the Blazer into a local GM dealer for service a few times in 1997.

Now – fast-forward to March 2014. One evening, I check my email and notice the following email:

We want to welcome you as a Preferred Email Customer of _____ Chevrolet. Thank you for letting us send periodic emails regarding your 1995 Blazer. In the future, we would like to send you emails that will include safety related recalls, service reminders and special offers from _____ Chevrolet that only our Preferred Email Customers will receive.

I was quite surprised when I first saw this email. First, I no longer own the Blazer; I traded that Blazer in for a Camaro in 1999. Second, after thinking for a minute and looking at the dealership, I realized it was the same dealership that I had taken my Blazer to the dealership in ‘97.

Here we have a dealership who’s just taken some initiative to build a ‘preferred’ email customer list and start to reach out to those clients. Great idea, but poor execution.

There’s a real problem with their approach though. They’ve done very little in terms of data management. They’ve taken a few pieces of disparate data from their client database and stuffed them into an email.

This isn’t how you use data. You don’t just take data, throw it into an email system and blast your clients or ex-clients. You’ll do nothing but annoy.

Data management processes would help here. With the proper management systems and processes in place, this organization wouldn’t have just dumped old data into an email system. They would have had processes in place to ensure the data would be as accurate as possible. They would have also had systems in place to ensure that any data that is used to contact clients would be cleansed and updated to ensure that clients want to be updated.

This particular organization is trying to reach out to clients, but they have used old, outdated data. When I read their email I immediately thought that this dealership had no clue how to do proper client outreach. They had no clue how to ‘clean’ their data or manage that data to ensure they were only reaching out using accurate email lists.

Data management isn’t always THE answer, but for this particular problem, it will help. Proper data management systems and processes are critical for every organization today. Don’t let your organization look as bad as this car dealership did. Make sure you’ve got proper data management processes and systems in place.

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