“Who am I, and if so – how many?”
This is the title of a philosophical bestseller by Richard David Precht. However, the question of identity is not just a mental game, it touches on very tangible aspects of modern everyday life. Without a clear identity, not only people get mixed up, but also databases. Duplicates are multiple entries for one and the same client in your database.
Such duplicates are not just a nuisance – they can be really dangerous. Why, and how you can protect your company from them, is the subject of this article.
Writing to customers more than once by post does not reflect well on the sender. Companies that do not manage to avoid duplicates look badly organised. In addition, they incur unnecessary costs for production and postage.
But these are minor issues compared to other aspects. Duplicates have a really serious impact on your business decisions. Duplicates fragment the customer image, like a broken mirror. Business decisions made on such a basis can be fatal. For example, you might accept a customer’s order even though they are a poor payer. Or you might not realise that a long-standing customer has great potential because you inadvertently look at the sales history of a recent duplicate.
Legal requirements additionally oblige you to handle your customers’ information with care. The German Federal Data Protection Act requires that you only contact customers by telephone or e-mail if they consent to being contacted. If customers request not to receive advertising, you must take this into account, otherwise you could face severe penalties. When making business decisions, other legal guidelines apply – e.g. when granting loans, the requirements according to Basel III and reporting obligations of politically exposed persons (PEP). In order to be able to meet all these requirements, customers must be unambiguously stored in your database – without duplicates.
You can control this treacherous issue with a series of measures that build on each other. It all starts with a simple, error-tolerant customer search. This allows you to find your customers quickly and accurately. When you create data records of new customers, you should check for possible duplicates before saving. When entering the data, you should also check whether customers are on sanctions lists or are subject to a special reporting obligation as politically exposed persons (PEP). Last but not least, it is advisable to regularly check the customer base for duplicates and cleanly merge any duplicates found.
This is a lot of unavoidable work. The good news here: Our products take a large part of it off your hands. TOLERANT Software ensures clean, efficiently managed customer data.