Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Batch of Delicious Data: Fairytale Brownies Cooks Up an Error-Proofing Solution with Experian QAS

Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Batch of Delicious Data: Fairytale Brownies Cooks Up an Error-Proofing Solution with Experian QAS

Article excerpt


* Tell us about this scrumptious company of yours. In 1992, I started Fairytale Brownies with a childhood friend. Around high school we decided we wanted to start a business together. We brainstormed a bunch of ideas and settled on my mother's brownies recipe. We started selling the brownies wholesale to coffee houses, street fairs, and farmers' markets. It evolved into a mail-order business with a mailing list. Customers would sample brownies and would then decide to ship a batch for when they got home.


* What challenges were you facing? For one thing, we've evolved into a gift-giving business: Virtually every order is going to someone other than who ordered it--maybe 1 to 2 percent of orders are for self-consumption. We realized early we were having a lot of address corrections. With gifts, all things go wrong with address problems--the gift doesn't get delivered or is late. And timelines are very important, especially with events such as birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine's Day. We're now mailing some two and a half million catalogs for the year, and we do about 60 percent of our revenue in three weeks in December. Over time, we saw that the bad addresses add up--and as address-correction costs went up, we started chipping away at them from a manual perspective. We were getting on the Internet, checking addresses. Over time we started developing our own tool internally to validate addresses. We refined that over a few years, and we saw benefits immediately--correct addresses meant orders were delivered.

With addresses,we are pretty generous in terms of customer service. If a customer has a problem, we do whatever it takes to get it right--whether that means we reship or reorder. Each one isn't that big of a deal, but it adds up. Then there's the customer-satisfaction standpoint. If we can get that correction before billing, there are so many additional benefits--satisfied customers, less time on the phone with customer service, the receiver gets the brownies sooner.

Volume became the problem. There still had to be a human involved. We were only validating orders through the phone. We didn't have a system to go back and match information every time and we weren't catching all the wrong addresses. …

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