What is Fuzzy Matching, and How Can Fuzzy Address Matching Save Your Business Time and Money?

Inaccurate addresses can be a serious and expensive pain point for businesses. In this blog, we’ll reveal how fuzzy matching can ensure your database is filled with correct customer addresses and why fuzzy address matching is a must-have tool.

Typos are a fact of life. No matter how good your spelling is, you can occasionally misspell a word, leave off a letter at the end, or switch letters accidentally. 

When it comes to your customers, incorrect addresses can cause serious problems. A wrongly typed address can lead to issues with data accuracy, resulting in compliance risks, delivery problems and a bad customer experience. 

That’s where fuzzy matching can help. 

What is fuzzy matching? 

Fuzzy matching, also known as approximate string matching, is a method to compare and identify two elements of text, strings, or entries that are approximately similar but are not 100% the same.

How does fuzzy matching work?

Fuzzy matching uses a string-matching algorithm that searches for a string within another string. The fuzzy matching algorithm uses predetermined rules to find duplicate strings, words, or entries that are the closest match with each other. This makes it possible to find names, words, or strings that are abbreviated, shortened, or misspelt. 

The types of errors that fuzzy matching can correct include: 

  • Insertions – a letter is added (e.g. “street” becomes “streeet”)  
  • Deletions – a letter is removed (e.g. “avenue” becomes “avene”)
  • Substitutions – a letter is swapped (e.g. “road” becomes “rood”)
  • Transpositions – two letters are swapped (e.g. “court” becomes “cuort”) 

Fuzzy matching is enabled by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This means tools that feature fuzzy matching, like Loqate’s address capture, are constantly learning and evolving to find more matches. 

How does fuzzy address matching improve address capture? 

Traditional exact address matching logic is binary – an address matches precisely or not.

But fuzzy address matching indicates the degree to which a statement is true to help identify errors. Mistakes in a typed address are found and fixed at the point of entry by identifying and correcting common typos. 

Here are examples of common errors that exact address matching won’t catch:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Extra letters
  • Missing spaces
  • Incorrect type (road vs street)
  • Abbreviations
  • Unit, flat or apartment
  • Swapped letters

Let’s look at a fuzzy matching example. 

You ask customers to type their address into an onboarding form, but they misspell their street name. Customer details would be wrong without fuzzy matching, causing a whole series of problems. 

With Loqate’s address validation system, the fuzzy address matching algorithm finds an approximate match to the misspelt word. 

Pros of fuzzy address matching

Fuzzy address matching offers several advantages to businesses:

1.    Increase address accuracy

Discrepancies and inaccuracies in address data can have far-reaching consequences, causing serious privacy and compliance risks and a poor customer experience. Using fuzzy matching, the Loqate address validation system significantly reduces incorrect address entries by customers to mitigate these risks. 

2.    Create an effortless customer experience

Your customers want a fast, slick form-filling experience. Loqate address capture tool uses fuzzy matching to provide address predictions quickly and flexibly as the customer is typing. This reduces customer keystrokes, giving them the friction-free form experience they expect. 

3.    Better mobile experience

As consumers increasingly rely on their mobile devices for banking, shopping and everyday tasks, businesses need to create seamless, optimised mobile journeys. 

The challenge is that entering lengthy personal information on a mobile phone is cumbersome and frustrating, and often leads to form abandonment. According to Statista, mobile shoppers are consistently more likely to abandon an online shopping cart compared to desktop users. 

Even though errors are more likely when typing on a mobile, fuzzy matching ensures you capture the correct address and makes it easier for mobile users to onboard. 

4.    Improve data accuracy and cleanliness

To ensure your database is filled with clean and accurate data, you must prevent misspelt, invalid and incomplete addresses at the source. Powered by fuzzy address matching, better match rates can provide more usable address data and minimise time spent on manual verification.  

Fuzzy matching algorithms can also help you find duplicate data records and merge your records, as you can easily pair up the same address written in two different ways. 

Summary

Address data may seem like a small part of your business, but it can seriously impact your customer experience and bottom line if you don’t get it right. Using fuzzy matching, Loqate’s address validation automatically amends customer mistakes like typos, missing letters or spelling errors, so even if the entry isn’t perfect, the results will be. 

By preventing wrong addresses from getting into the system at the point of entry, you can ensure your database is clean, and your communications reach the right people. 

Find out more about how Loqate's address validation can help you build a clean database and improve the customer experience. Speak to one of our experts today.