• September 1, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Keep Customer Data On Pointe

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The dancers of Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), one of the world's most respected companies, regularly perform demanding shows, performances that require, simultaneously, precision, grace, and accuracy. The company maintains a constituency of about 260,000 records of more than 11,000 subscribers in a Tessitura system, a CRM database designed specifically to meet the needs of artistic and theatrical organizations. Unfortunately, although the database was up to the challenge, PNB couldn't say the same thing about its customer data. The Tessitura system was riddled with bad addresses. Data received from outside mailing lists like Ticketmaster was missing apartment numbers and had incorrectly spelled street names. The high-volume ticket sales of The Nutcracker season alone only exacerbated the problem. As a not-for-profit organization, PNB's returned mail was both expensive and time-consuming for the marketing team. For example, a mailing of approximately 75,000 pieces resulted in 12,000 returned pieces. At a cost of 70 cents per piece, PNB was losing $8,400, or more than 16 percent, on each mailing. To solve the problem PNB turned to QuickAddress Pro from QAS. QuickAddress Pro validates addresses against official U.S. Postal Service records during entry into a database. Besides Pro, PNB also installed QuickAddress Batch, a data-cleansing solution that validates existing records. Together, PNB is using the products to cleanse its existing database and to make sure it stays that way. "It keeps our customer data on its toes," says Jim Mitchell, PNB's IT manager. With a more accurate member and donor database, PNB is now saving money on marketing campaigns and is better prepared to target new audiences. "Marketing gets very expensive if you don't have good information in the first place," Mitchell says. "Prior to QAS we had a return rate of over 16 percent. Our current return rate is almost negligible."
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