Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life. They are one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, eBooks, text books and reference works.
Taylor & Francis (T&F) always had some level of customer record duplication, a common concern for many publishers with a legacy of print subscribers. When T&F became part of the Informa group in 2005, two major customer sets were merged together, which created even more duplicate accounts. “For many years we just put up with it,” said Sarah Wright, Customer Services Director. Her Customer Service team spent significant amounts of time navigating through duplicate accounts in order to properly apply orders, establish online access, and otherwise service their clients.
Moving to a new online platform in 2011 meant they could finally address the online service issues presented by their legacy print data. At that time, approximately 70% of work related to online access was claims for non-access, which was often the result of confusing source data.
The consequences of poor customer data extended beyond Customer Service: T&F sales staff did not have access to trustworthy reports to inform their customer dealings. It was near impossible to generate retention reports, lists of top customers, or total holdings reports for subscribers. Recognizing that improving the state of their data would resolve these issues, T&F attempted first to clean their records, but it became evident that external support would be required.
Therefore, T&F approached Ringgold with the following goals:
- Eliminate duplicate accounts
- Provide each subscriber with the correct online access to their licensed content
- Minimize customer service inquiries
It came down to having bad data. Two systems told us two different stories on the same customer.
Sarah Wright, T&F Customer Services Director
The Solution: Identify Database & Validate Service
T&F adopted Ringgold’s Identify Database in 2011 to allow them to confidently consolidate duplicates and join related accounts. Using Identify to first disambiguate their customers, they then embedded Ringgold Identifiers in their fulfillment system to define both the primary account, and the level at which the subscriber should be granted access. This has been particularly useful with regard to consortia accounts, when payments may not be made by the consortia itself.
To ensure no further duplicate accounts are created, T&F runs regular reports of all new records to which a Ringgold Identifier has yet to be assigned. Staff then search the records in the Identify Database, mapping their new accounts according to T&F business rules. Ringgold’s Validate Service allows them to request a new Identify record (complete with Ringgold Identifier) as needed, ensuring total coverage for all T&F institutional accounts.
T&F also uses the Identify hierarchies to bring related accounts together. This allows users to see at which college or department level subscribers belong, an essential piece of information, especially when customers are part of a large institution.
Online access claims have been reduced from 70% to 20% of staff time. Attention can now be devoted to inquiries which truly require Customer Service expertise, rather than the simple but time-consuming work of linking related accounts. The elimination of the majority of claims has allowed them to provide better service overall, while also keep their staffing levels consistent.
Improvements have also been made to the online customer interface, supported by the new authoritative customer records. As duplicates have been eliminated, customers are no longer faced with the option to select irrelevant accounts when logging into T&F Online. “The best customer service is for the customer not to have to contact us at all,” says Sarah Wright, Customer Services Director.
Report generation is now rapid, and the results are trustworthy. Before they adopted Identify, T&F was unable to run needed reports such as top 100 customers. Neither did they have confidence in many of the reports generated, such as retention levels and total subscription holdings, because the source data was often confusing. Now, downloading reports takes minutes.
New Journal Acquisition
When new journals are added to T&F’s portfolio, trained staff members also map those subscriber records to Identify. This allows T&F to readily see any overlaps with their existing customer base, better analyze the new customer sets, and view opportunities for growth across their existing set of content.
If we still had all the previous problems, we’d need a customer service team that is double the size. Furthermore, when downloads were divided between multiple accounts, it was difficult to get a full picture of usage across all products at an institution. Now, those figures are very easy to get.
Sarah Wright, T&F Customer Services Director