Inkit Gets Its Data Flowing In
Inkit provides companies with technology that can be quickly embedded into their existing infrastructures to autocomplete and verify customer addresses, deliver automated and personalized campaigns, and render paperless documents at scale. But as well as its technology worked on the surface, the Minneapolis-based company had serious troubles when it came to importing client data files.
“There at the time was no good way to allow our customers to import their data,” explains Michael McCarthy, Inkit’s CEO. “Importing data is very complex; there are something like over 90 different ways to save a file. Every file extension has a different kind of kink associated with it.”
Inkit had tried to build its own file importer, which worked fine with files like Microsoft Excel from U.S. companies. But the self-built solution failed when trying to import data from companies using Excel or other spreadsheets designed for other countries with different coding.
“It was very problematic if customers uploaded files that didn’t meet our requirements. We had to give them our exact specifications, which ended up being a huge bottleneck. Anytime someone uploaded a file that was not encoded properly, everything would break,” McCarthy recalls.
With its self-built solution, six or seven clients had weekly issues, which resulted in a lot of unhappy customers, according to McCarthy.
Finding a good data onboarding solution took nothing more than a quick Google search, according to McCarthy, who began his research in September 2019. “When we ran the Google search, Flatfile came up as the one and only solution out there.
“We were in such a bind, we bought the product immediately after a quick demonstration and a look at the API implementation,” he says.
Inkit installed the Flatfile solution and trashed its own, going live in a couple of weeks. “Installing Flatfile took only about an hour of development time. It was really easy once we got it up and running and a huge time saver across the board. It didn’t make sense to invest our resources on building and maintaining this core, yet secondary, part of our solution,” he says.
McCarthy calls Flatfile “fail-proof.”
“We haven’t had any problems. We now see a 100 percent data import success rate. Flatfile exceeded our expectations.
“We’ve saved over $250,000 just on potential customer loss,” McCarthy adds. Two clients alone, each worth $30,000 in annual revenue, had threatened to leave if the issue wasn’t fixed. Others were likely to follow in quick succession.
“We basically have improved our import rate by a factor of 10,” he boasts.
“Customers are happy because they can actually import their own data. They don’t have to reach out to customer support every time it breaks because it doesn’t fail.”
And McCarthy is happy too. Prior to adding the Flatfile solution, Inkit would dedicate one or two full-time engineers to the development and maintenance of the internal data import solution, which still couldn’t work as well as Flatfile, according to McCarthy.
“There’s a ton of engineering time that we’ve saved by partnering with Flatfile. We don’t have to maintain it ourselves; we don’t have to pay our own engineers to do this.”
And it doesn’t end there.
“What we’re really excited about is that Flatfile is going to be adding data enrichment into the product,” McCarthy explains. “So when a customer uploads a file, it will basically upload their data. It’ll also also autocorrect, making the data more hygienic.”
McCarthy is also looking into how to potentially further those hygienic updates in Flatfile, whether it’s the formatting of a phone number or adding a hyperlink to an email address. The goal, he says, is “ensuring that the customer data that’s coming in is not only formatted in the appropriate way, but also is of the quality that is most useful to our customers.”
Since implementing Flatfile, Inkit has seen the following results:
- an estimated $250,000 saved in customer losses;
- data import speed improved by a factor of 10; and
- data import failures reduced to 0.