MADISON, Wis. (4/9/09)--About one-third of financial institutions admit they do not have an adequate contact data strategy, according to a recent report. Experian’s “Contact Data Management: the Wise Investor” explores the data strategies that financial institutions use to contact members or customers. Experian conducted survey research that included responses from CEOs, vice presidents, directors, managers and administration staff. The information found in the report is relevant to credit unions because credit unions send direct mailings to members--including disclosure forms, loan forms, personal identification numbers and ATM cards. If contact information isn’t correct for a member, a credit union can waste time and money sending materials incorrectly. Experian’s research indicated that 33% of financial institutions don’t have a documented data quality strategy. “Organizations that can’t trust their data should be worried,” the paper said. “Without accurate customer information, effective retention strategies are difficult.” Consumer spending has tightened and organizations are struggling to retain their existing customers. They must understand who their consumers are and how to communicate with them. Recent high profile mergers and acquisitions create overlap of member data that must be consolidate and migrated, Experian said. About 25% of organizations can’t list the top users of their products and services. However, 71% of financial institutions said they plan to invest the same or more in data quality initiatives in the next six months. Pitching to a board for investment is not an easy task, Experian said. The paper provided several ways that credit unions can receive approval from their boards to expand their budgets for better data strategies. “Position data quality as a solid foundation for improving business performance,” said Jonathan Hulford-Funnell, Experian global managing director. “Be careful how you use the term ‘innovation.’ Some senior managers are wary of it as it suggests an element of risk, but when harnessed correctly, it can deliver great results.” The paper also cited a case study that could apply to credit unions involving an e-commerce site. The site was being charged expenses by shippers for providing inaccurate information and incomplete addresses on shipments. After realizing the biggest errors came directly from the consumers, the site deployed an address verification solution, which validated the information upon entry. The software prompted the user for missing information, such as a street number. After one year of using the software, the retailer realized more than $1 million in savings. Customer satisfaction also increased, Experian said.