The Retail Data Nightmare: Coming to a Store Near You!

April 29, 2009
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Not too long ago, I visited a retail store to purchase numerous items. Now this is no small local store: it has a large presence, with outlets across Canada and the United States.

You would think they would be in the 21st Century with their data warehouse methodologies and CRM apps, but they aren’t.

What I discovered as the clerk punched in our telephone number was that there where not one, not two, not even three records with the same unique telephone number — but seven records. This is what they had:

1) One past owner of the phone from over 15 years ago;
2) Three versions of my name;
3) Two versions of my wife’s name; and,
4) One record that was a joint name account.

This is master data at its worse. Being curious I started asking questions! Smart, right! You ask data warehousing, MDM and DQ questions to a sales clerk and see what responses you get, and then you’ll realize just how smart of a move that is!

What I found out was that all my records had the same address content, phone numbers and postal code information, excluding the older record. I told the sales rep they should delete the other records and keep just one; it would be better for their record and data management…

Not too long ago, I visited a retail store to purchase numerous items. Now this is no small local store: it has a large presence, with outlets across Canada and the United States.

You would think they would be in the 21st Century with their data warehouse methodologies and CRM apps, but they aren’t.

What I discovered as the clerk punched in our telephone number was that there where not one, not two, not even three records with the same unique telephone number — but seven records. This is what they had:

1) One past owner of the phone from over 15 years ago;
2) Three versions of my name;
3) Two versions of my wife’s name; and,
4) One record that was a joint name account.

This is master data at its worse. Being curious I started asking questions! Smart, right! You ask data warehousing, MDM and DQ questions to a sales clerk and see what responses you get, and then you’ll realize just how smart of a move that is!

What I found out was that all my records had the same address content, phone numbers and postal code information, excluding the older record. I told the sales rep they should delete the other records and keep just one; it would be better for their record and data management. The clerk said they cannot delete the duplicate records. So I gave my elevator speech about data quality and uniqueness of the record and that she should, or her manager, contact their IT department and fix those records.

I’m sure she’ll hop right on that request. Deer in headlights…mean anything to you!

Purchase complete. My extended warranty is somewhere under one of those records. The way I see it. In the future if I do call in for service, they may not be able to find my warranty, or they’ll ask me which record it’s under. In either case it will equal one frustrated customer and a new blog all about it. Next time I’ll make sure to mention the store name.

And to sum it all up, I now know why I get six calls a year for carpet cleaning service and another six for air-duct cleaning.

By the way, I never mentioned the other two records at my old address, different phone number!!!

Let’s face it, this is an excellent example of a company operating with a lack of process, and poor, poor governance.