Data Services Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQ’s are th most commonly asked questions at Northwest Database Services. If you have any that you feel would be of help to other visitors, please submit them through our Contact Us page.

Q: My company has been collecting data for a few years now and yet I can’t get it to “tell” me anything.

A: As your company grows, it’s in an increasingly better position to learn who enjoys doing business with you, as well what kind of business, when, how much and how often. The customers you have attracted up till now have already, in a measure, defined your company. The spoor is there to read, but can be difficult to follow without effective woodcraft and the right gear…

Many businesses already have the basics: customer names and addresses, items purchased, when and how many, etc. The problem is that this doesn’t really tell you much about the individuals themselves.

Collecting this additional, vital information on your own can be costly in time and compilation. Demographic enhancement however, is a cost-effective and efficient way to provide that all-important “Hunter’s Edge.”

Once your database has been enhanced and continues to evolve, it will remember, remind and reveal to you marvelous, formerly hidden things about your customers. It will point out ways to discover new business based on an accurately developed profile or model.

Finally, we need compass and sextant; navigational tools to show us the path through what can become a tangled jungle or, in other words, reports. Reports are the navigational tools used by any database to determine where it’s been and, more important, where it’s headed.

Q: I would like to use my database as a mailing list, but I don’t know when the addresses were last updated; how many will actually get there?

A: Data is like produce: it’s best used when fresh. From the moment data is dded to your database, it’s already getting stale. Things such as people moving to a new address, moving away and leaving no forwarding address, moving out of your territory, or simply ‘disappearing’ all contribute to the decay of your data. (Nationwide, about 15%-20% of consumers move, which means that 15% to 20% of your customers’ and/or prospects’ mailing pieces will go directly into a USPS dumpster every year if you don’t keep up with them.
Use the NCOA (National Change Of Address) System to update a list that hasn’t been updated in some time; use the ACS (Address Change Service) for ongoing, electronic updates.

Q: I need to standardize and automate the way my database handles my common and necessary business/data operations.

A: Similar to Question 2. Northwest Database can automate standard, regularly performed operations through custom programming.

Q: I need to know more about what’s going on with my customers and prospects.

A: Data, as stored in a database, doesn’t actually tell you anything. You could look at customers or inventory going by on your computer screen and still not know who is buying what the most often and, subsequently, why.

Data is virtually useless to the human mind unless it is organized into information. Knowing that 25% of your customers who buy shoes from your store also buy ketchup can indicate a change in the way you market ketchup from now on. This isn’t so far-fetched.

It’s said that, years ago, 7-11 stores noticed that men who were asked by their wives to buy disposable diapers on their way home after work would also buy beer. By displaying the two seemingly unrelated items next to each other, beer sales went way up.

Northwest Database can draft a specially designed series of queries and reports to always show you what’s going on in there…

Need answers to your questions right away? Call us at 360-841-8168 to start a conversation about your data project.