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Trillium Software

CDI Success at Loyalty Management Group

 

Steve Sarsfield

Trillium Software

 

In Europe, Loyalty Management Group (LMG) owns and operates very large, retail-based, customer loyalty programs. The Nectar brand is one of the UK’s largest coalition loyalty programs.  For users of the Nectar card, you earn points from everyday purchases and can redeem those points for gifts and prizes. The Nectar card is very well-known in the UK. Approximately half of all UK households participate in Nectar.

 

Using the databases generated by Nectar, LMG also provides database marketing and consulting services to retailers, service providers and consumer packaged goods companies worldwide. LMG works with over twenty partners and has given back over £1 billion worth of rewards to collectors since 2002.

 

Nectar data

As you might imagine, the data management effort needed to store half the population of the UK and a good portion of Europe could be extreme.  To make matters worse, data entered into the Nectar system generally comes from paper-based forms available in stores or received through mailings, online or by phoning a call center. All of these sources could produce poor data if not checked.

 

LMG’s Nectar membership database today holds details of tens of millions of opted-in households and is one of LMG’s most valuable assets. Value comes from a combination of collector trust, data accuracy and compliance with the UK Data Protection Act.  It is that attention to detail that attracted partners to Nectar for their customer acquisition and retention campaigns.

 

Start Small Approach

So what approach did LMG take to manage this international data?  By 2004, millions of households were collecting points. Retail and service partners were making as many as 50 extracts a month from their Nectar databases to gain intelligence to guide campaigns. With the success of Nectar, and the ever increasing importance of the customer database to sponsors, management recognized data integrity assurance as essential good business governance. LMG decided that they needed closer business control and made business management responsible for data integrity rather than IT.

 

In the early months of Nectar, with huge volumes of applications flowing in, LMG’s approach to data quality was simple. It expected its data capture agency to ensure name and address data in application forms or letters was accurately coded. As an additional check, LMG embedded the Trillium Software System in its own systems, including in real-time for online and call-centre applications. At first, LMG used just the basic capabilities of the tool to ensure that at enrollment, addresses matched to UK Postcode Address File (PAF).

 

Build Toward CDI and Data Governance

As data management matured at LMG, so did the approach. LMG engaged a business-oriented data quality steward to review existing processes and propose new policy. The business-oriented team at LMG identified a need for a more systematic approach to spotting issues in records, and identifying duplicates. Suppression management needed to become routine rather than an ad-hoc manual activity. Business users sought automated data enhancement; such as adding missing information like initials, forename, gender or salutation.

 

LMG recognized that its existing investment in the Trillium Software System was a sound one, in a product ranked by Gartner in its ‘Leaders Quadrant’ for data quality tools. The company chose to use the solution more comprehensively, both in its collector enrollment processes and upon its Oracle production database. Supported by Trillium Software Professional Services, LMG also defined, tested and implemented a more extensive and rigorous set of business rules.

 

To allow it to better understand the nature of its data and expose issues within it, LMG also invested in TS Discovery, the data profiling and analysis component of the Trillium Software System. As well as spotting common problems LMG could eliminate through further tuning of TS Quality to its business rules, the company has been able to set up various action routines in TS Discovery. For example, where mandatory information is found to be missing at the point of registration, a process is now in place where an exception letter is sent to the collector asking for the missing information.

 

“Today our quality processes are very advanced, both at a real-time data entry level and on an ongoing batch-maintenance basis,” said Louise Cantrill, Campaign Services Manager at LMG. “We are confident in our data integrity; with the Trillium Software System, data quality is now business as usual for us.”

 

Data quality for LMG may now be a standard process as regards Nectar registrations and maintaining ongoing data accuracy. But there are also ‘non-standard’ projects where good data quality is essential too. For example LMG uses the Trillium Software System to help partners match their own customer databases with the Nectar collector database. For certain campaigns, LMG partners might want to know which individuals are on both their own customer database and on the Nectar database, or which customers are common to both. The Trillium Software System makes this exercise easy, including the process of pre-processing the partner’s data where necessary, to bring it up to a sufficient standard for accurate matching.

 

Largest card mailing in Europe

In 2007, in a multi-million pound rebrand and card renewal exercise, LMG mailed new cards to nearly 10 million people, to replace cards that were now up to five years old. It was one of the largest ‘recard’ mailings in Europe. For each collector, a personalized card needed to be produced, then mailed with a pack to their latest address. There being a long production lead time, cards were printed over a three-month period, each individualized with the collector’s name and membership number. Close to the actual mailing date, up to date name and address data was used to produce a mailing pack for each person. Cards and packs were then matched to create the final personalized mailing.

 

“In our recard mailing, in the weeks between extracting data for the ten million card print run and the data for the mailing pack information, there were 300,000 suppressions on the grounds of data latency,” said Cantrill. “Using the Trillium Software System enabled us to identify these suppressions saving us around £150k in production and mailing costs.”

 

As well as enabling conformance with suppression requests and controlling mailing costs, the Trillium Software System was used to monitor adjusted card and letter file sequences so the right card and pack went with the right letter, to the right person. This quality process gave assurance and comfort to the senior management team. They were concerned to avoid any chance of a sequencing error as this could lead to tens of thousands of cards being collated with the wrong letter; damaging the Nectar brand and costing thousands of pounds to correct!

 

Final word

The benefits of excellent data quality processes are integral to the success of LMG. Certainly considerable savings are made through maintaining low rates of returned mail. But much more significantly, Nectar would be seriously undermined if collector data lacked integrity since this would lead to a loss of faith with collectors and partners.

 

“Nectar is trusted by millions of people,” concluded Cantrill. “Collector information is our most valuable asset and the quality of that information is everything to us; it’s fundamental to our brand.”

 

admin @ January 5, 2009