Put an End to Data Fatigue (1,274 words)
Who is right? All three departments are correct, but for different reasons. Each manager should report only the pertinent information for his/her area of responsibility. This way, data are consistent every reporting period.
Always indicate a data source on the summary report (e.g., data source: marketing system updated 11/02) to help the users understand the foundation of comparison. This will keep credibility high and tension low.
Interpret the Data Before Someone Else Does
As a manager, review the database reports to understand the information and interpret the findings. You have a responsibility to the organization to use your insight, experience and knowledge to dissect the information and draw conclusions. If the customer file counts are lower than those from the same period last year, you need to communicate the reason for the change. For example:
- Are you circulating fewer customers in order to reduce expenses?
- Are page counts lower this year?
- Did you mail later in the season?
- What is the complexion of the file—do you have more one-time buyers versus multi-buyers?
- Is the average order value higher, producing higher gross demand dollars than last year, but response is lower?
- Is the merchandise mix having an impact on items per order?
- Are back orders or cancels higher?
- Did the merchandise density change, or perhaps the creative presentation was revamped?
- Was a special offer promoted last year?
There are many reasons, often planned and expected, for differences. You need to be the person communicating the information and guiding the rest of the team through the data.
The greatest source of information is found in the database—but it's perceived as an esoteric discussion for the technologically advanced. This does not have to be the case.
Be assertive and request an information session with the programmer. If you feel apprehensive, ask to see the data model and dictionary. You'll receive an organizational chart of the data (data model) and a job description for each field (data dictionary). This is a visual representation of the data and the relationships of each field. The programmer can explain the flow, show you examples and answer questions. Many times, the call center uses one system to support the process of taking an order, verifying payment and relaying inventory information to a customer. This is good information, but not all-encompassing. The marketing system typically is a byproduct of the transactional database.