In this first installment of a two part series on the importance of keeping your contact data up to date, I'll discuss why up-to-date data is vital to your agency's success.
Part 1: Why Keeping Up-to-Date Data is So Important
Keeping your client data accurate and up to date is vital to the success of your agency. Failure to keep correct data for your customers can create costly and embarrassing mistakes.
Your client data deteriorates rapidly. In fact, if you fail to maintain it, you will find that much of it is useless within three years.
By failing to keep your client's contact and personalized data up to date, you could be throwing money out the window by attempting to reach insureds whose contact details have changed or even commit a colossal blunder by trying to contact someone who has died!
More common mistakes include sending mailings with a client's or prospect's name spelled incorrectly. This can create a bad impression or taint the relationship you are trying to build.
Updating Your Records
You have a responsibility to your business, clients, carriers, and support staff to ensure that your data is accurate and kept up-to-date. Updating your database regularly also helps you avoid wasting resources by contacting policy holders who've been lost, sending mailings to email and home addresses that are no longer current, and having CSRs spend hours calling disconnected numbers. It is possible to keep your database up-to-date by ensuring that you check client details regularly and update your records as soon as you become aware of changes.
If you've never cleaned and updated your data before, I'd recommend getting help from a company or purchasing a software product to scrub your client data. There are all sorts of issues that could arise the first time you clean your data, and it's best to have help for a huge clean, especially if you've never done it before.
A professional data-cleaning company or data scrubbing software product can screen customer data against a range of files, including the national change of address file and county records like death certificates..
Be aware though, the results aren't always 100% accurate. For example, the post office only takes into account people who notify them that they have moved, which is only about 1/3 of people who move each year. To help combat this, some larger data scrubbing companies will list information as guaranteed or assumed.
When An Emergency Strikes, Up-to-Date Data is More Important than Ever
If there is a natural disaster in your community or a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing, you need to be able to convey critical information to your clients. Your clients will also want to reach you should they have claims resulting from a catastrophe. If their information is not up to date, how can you help them? What sort of E&O exposure will you leave yourself open to if your data isn't up to date?
Delete With Caution
If you are cleaning your own information, or you've sent a recent mailing and have had something returned, avoid deleting the information straight away. It's best to call or send an email to get the updated information for your file. Do not wait. If you wait it will not get done. In AgencyBuzz it's very easy to update records when you see something is returned. I'll discuss that more in part two.
My recommendation: never delete data unless you are sure it is no longer useful to you.
How do you know it's no longer useful? You should regularly review what data you need and how long you need to keep it. Be sure you're securely updating, deleting or archiving data. AgencyBuzz backs up your data hourly - so should something happen, and you accidentally delete somebody, or a whole list of contacts (which happens more often than you'd think), we can retrieve it for you and place it back in your account. Your Outlook account won't do that.
There really is no excuse for failing to keep your data clean. People are much more aware of data issues nowadays so there is help available and services to screen your data.
No one is expecting you to do this without help, and that help may include a contact management system.
In part two of this series, I will talk about why you need a contact management system and what to look for when shopping for one.