Address data is vital for the success of businesses around the world. Essential to the emergency services for life and death situations, for receiving goods purchased online, for pizza delivery, and for confirming an individual’s identity, address data should remain a key focus for businesses across a range of sectors.
After all, accurate address data is the difference between a happy customer and a frustrated one, a successful delivery and a failed delivery, increased costs or money saved.
So, it is no longer enough to ask a customer to manually enter an address on your web forms. With increasingly small screens and diminishing attention spans, it is vital that businesses can offer tools that make filling in an address quick and easy rather than time consuming and frustrating.
Validated addresses lead to a wide range of advantages for businesses. Not only do they lead to more effective communication and increased efficiency, but they also result in a reduction of failed deliveries and the high costs and customer dissatisfaction that goes with it, as well as increased numbers when on-boarding customers within industries such as finance, insurance and gaming.
Address validation is also essential from a UX perspective, as the most effective tools will speed up address data entry, allowing customers to move confidently through the process, safe in the knowledge that the company now has the correct address.
With so many types of address verification out there, how do you know which one is right for your business and customers?
Here is a breakdown of the most common types of address verification for capturing addresses in a web form.
Shopper enters all data into free-entry fields.
State and Country fields use dropdowns to enforce consistent entry.
Postal code entry populates city and state, with manual entry of the rest of the data.
Consumer manually enters the address, then a pop-up shows possible alternatives, with the consumer asked to choose the correct one.
The user starts typing their address into a single field and as they type, increasingly accurate suggestions are offered. Clicking on a suggestion returns the full address.
Data quality is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when selecting an address verification tool. It is the cornerstone of any business’ success, leading to increased efficiency, more effective communication with customers, improved brand reputation and an increased ROI.
Great address verification providers will only source quality data from licensed partners such as Royal Mail, USPS and Canada Post.
Data should also be updated as regularly as possible to ensure that the address details you capture are clean and up to date, and providers should offer the option to include enhanced data sets to suit your business needs.
Fuzzy matching is an innovative feature of some address verification tools that looks at common mistakes that a customer might be making in the address entry stage, such as spelling mistakes, abbreviations or nicknames, additional spaces and transposed letters or missing words or letters.
For the end-user, this means they can find the address they are looking for quickly and easily. For you, this means faster, more accurate registrations or form completions and a better overall customer journey.
We live in a world that is made much smaller thanks to the internationalisation of many businesses, but good communication with customers across the globe if the data we hold about them is not just valid, but also correctly formatted for their native country.
A good address validation tool will provide international data for the countries and territories you serve. Whether or not you currently provide a service in just one country, having the ability to expand without issues is crucial.
With approximately 4.78 billion people estimated to own a smartphone by 2020, your customers expect the quickest, easiest and most convenient data entry experience, especially on mobile.
As devices rapidly get smaller and smarter, checkouts and forms need to adapt to ensure they evolve with the expectation of a great user experience. An innovative address verification provider will offer a geolocation technology add-on that enables their customers to enter an address in one tap, eliminating keystrokes altogether.
Capturing accurate addresses is fundamental to any online business. Today there’s such a wide range of tools available, it’s almost impossible to know where to begin. To help narrow it down, we’ve put a list together of the top questions you should be asking before selecting a new provider.
This is one of, if not, the most important question to ask your potential provider. It’s critical that you know how frequently the data is updated and refreshed.
With almost 5,000 address changes taking place every 24 hours to the 28 million records in PAF® alone, the database is not a static file and is constantly changing to reflect new builds, updates and deletions. Therefore, if your supplier isn’t updating their data daily, you could be missing out on thousands of potential addresses.
Before selecting your vendor it’s imperative you are completely satisfied with the measurements put in place to safeguard your data. The provider should have a published privacy and security policy that ensures that your data will never be misused, sold or shared. Before a contract is secured, sign a non-disclosure agreement with the vendor as insurance that they are wholly committed to protecting your privacy.
Does the company publish its network availability and uptime standards? You need to find out that if something does go wrong with one of their servers, there’s a sufficient failover plan in place so that your services won’t be affected. A minor bit of downtime is inevitable at some point, but with a good provider, you will be none the wiser.
Will their technology check for common typos and transposed characters? For example, if a user types ‘Lodnon’ instead of ‘London’, is the technology smart enough to recognise the user’s mistake or will it just throw out error messages?
You should be looking for a supplier with legitimate relationships with reputable data sources, such as Royal Mail, USPS and Canada Post. Are they licensed resellers of the address data from postal operators or are they getting the data elsewhere?
Businesses branching out internationally will need to consider the quality of their provider’s global data. While your data might be fine for addresses in their native country, does it cover addresses of your overseas customers? When looking for a new address verification provider, it is essential to look for one who can offer data coverage for the areas you cater for.
Is it something you can put on your website yourself in less than 5 minutes, or will you need an army of developers to walk you through the process? Do they have integrations for the platforms you require, or will you be required to do this yourself? Additionally, ensure the company you choose supports your programming language whether it’s .NET, PHP, C# or Java. Ask if they offer sample code, and test to see how their API integrates with your systems and programming language.
With the number of mobile users constantly on the rise, providing them with the quickest, most convenient solution is imperative. Does the solution allow your mobile customers to return a full address in a single tap, eliminating the need to type?
Address cleanse, also known as back-end or back-office address verification is a cleansing and enhancing solution that works within your back-office system to provide complete and accurate address data. A good address cleanse tool will parse, standardise, cleanse and enhance your data to provide you with the most accurate and complete address data. Look to see if the provider you are interested in offers this essential tool.
Does the provider offer other services that may enhance your overall user experience or help improve your data, such as email validation, phone verification, geocoding or bank verification? They might not be on your agenda for the immediate future, but knowing that they are there as and when you need them is a great advantage.
Does the provider offer further data sets that will allow you to reach more customers, work more efficiently or identify and provide more services? Get a good overview of the data sets available, and make sure it is in line with your business needs.
Does the platform run from just one location, or is it run from multiple? Does it provide low latency performance and high availability, regardless of where you are? Is it global, resilient and secure? Looking for a platform that is innovative is key, so find out if it has the ability to scale as your business grows.
Find out the level of support that the provider offers, and whether this is free or subject to cost. Another question to ask is how quickly you will receive this support. Will it be within 24 hours or will you be waiting for a week?
Address data continues to be an essential asset to businesses across the globe, so finding an address verification tool that will enable your business to capture only clean and accurate addresses is vital. Without accurate address data, you risk customer dissatisfaction, poor communication with customers, high costs, reduced efficiency and poor decision making. Therefore, finding a tool that will allow you to capture only clean and accurate international address data is a must.
With customers demanding the most convenient user experience, it has never been more important to ensure your address entry forms are clear, quick and easy to complete. If your customer becomes frustrated or confused, it increases the chances of them abandoning your site and going to a competitor, which is something no business can afford.
To create a great UX for your customers, remember to look out for type-ahead address verification, which reduces the amount of effort required of the user, as well as key features such as fuzzy matching and geolocation.
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