Gold medal standard

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the national body for dinghy, motor and sail cruising, all forms of sail racing, Rigid Inflatable Boats, sports boats, windsurfing, personal watercraft, and a leading representative body for inland waterways cruising.

With over 100,000 personal members and more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, the RYA sets and maintains an international standard for recreational boat training through a network of RYA-recognised training centres, world-class courses, and educational material.

Responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports, the RYA’s coaching, and development schemes actively support the UK’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World Champions.

Benefits of RYA membership includes advice and support, certification, offers and discounts, insurance, and the latest relevant information on all aspects of recreational boating. We caught up with Andy Galvin, Information Systems Manager, to understand more about his role within the organisation and the importance that accurate customer and address data plays in communicating with and recruiting its members.

“When I joined the team in 1997, one of the projects the IT team was involved in was scoping out a solution that would improve data accuracy. We needed to migrate over 300 Microsoft Access databases into a single Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. Whilst attending a CRM EXPO, other businesses mentioned how they partnered with AFD to get address data right, so we got in touch.

Whilst many things have changed including that initial CRM system, one thing that has been consistent is our partnership with AFD that has now been in place helping us get customer and address data right for 24 years.”

All hands on deck

Manual data entry has two main drawbacks: time and human error. Having automatic address validation in place helps to remove these challenges. Data accuracy helps ensure communications get to the right place, and when the message being sent contains critical information, this is essential.

Andy describes: “As a membership organisation, we actively communicate with our members via traditional mail – sending out updates, events and literature which include safety information updates and protocol changes. We need to make sure this vital information is getting to our members and instructors quickly and accurately to help them stay within the latest guidelines.

We have up to 70 team members processing contact data in the CRM at any time. When we consider that manually typing an address can take between 15 and 20 seconds (slowed down further when struggling to read hand-written application forms), and processing over 250,000 address checks per year, AFD’s address lookup solution is saving 1400 hours each year in staff time and headaches!

Following the easing of government restrictions last summer that allowed sailing to resume, we found a much higher volume of applications for RYA Certificates of Competence (boat and yacht qualifications) and membership. Despite the high spike in applications, we were able to accurately process an increased number of applications in the same timeframe. Without AFD in place to help process the data, our application processing time would have increased and data accuracy would have dropped massively.”

Getting under way

Due to the difficulty in processing handwritten applications, the RYA now provide the ability to sign-up as a member on their website. To ensure they have plugged all the gaps for data accuracy, AFD’s address validation is deployed to help quickly capture the right address.

Validating addresses on entry has additional benefits which Andy goes on to explain: “When the application is completed online, our CRM system then checks if the applicant is already in the database via a postcode and surname match. This process relies on the accurate address AFD provides, allowing us to eliminate duplication which in turn reduces wasted costs and administration in rectifying.”

Learning the ropes

With a growing international presence and members from around the world wanting to train at RYA centres to gain their International Certificate of Competence, the website and UK-based team process international applications which come with their own challenges.

Andy continues: “We have found some countries addresses are more difficult than others to process. These difficulties are further compounded when most applications are filled out using pen and paper. Having a tool that allows the team to search for international addresses makes a tricky process very straightforward and saves us having to recruit address experts with local knowledge for the 50+ countries’ varying postal systems we work with.

AFD’s International address validation allows us to search by postcode or other address fragments and find the right address without having to do further research or spend time contacting the member.”

Keeping an even keel

Funding from membership revenue allows the RYA to continue its work and deliver the benefits and certificates that members sign up for. With a range of membership plans available for both individuals and families, payments can be made for annual memberships online and over the phone.

Describing the process of capturing payment details Andy continues, “When an error is made during a direct debit process, it’s not only the cost of a missed payment but also the cost of fixing the issue. A member of the team will need to go into the record, remove the direct debit and try to contact the member to update the record. This complication results in a poor experience when becoming a member or renewing.

With AFD’s bank verification solution for our team and the website, we can spot and rectify any errors whilst the customer is still on the phone or completing their application online, helping to achieve a smooth onboarding process.”

A happy ship

In summarising the partnership between the RYA and AFD Software, Andy concludes: “The way we have designed all our processes is tailored to give the best experience for both members and our team. We view services from AFD as far more than just address lookups; onboarding, finding, and communicating with members all rely on our partnership in data quality.

We have worked with The Postcode People at AFD Software for over 20 years. Two decades of partnership is a testament to the quality of solutions that we receive and the team that sits behind them.

We have found all the team are proactive and quick to respond to any of our requests. Being able to pick up the phone or send an email to a real person rather than an automated response is especially important for our small team. From a technical perspective, the APIs are straightforward to work with and deliver the results we need. I would recommend the team at AFD to help overcome challenges around contact data accuracy.”

For nearly 40 years, AFD has helped organisations get data right.

In the membership and not-for-profit sector, accurate contact data is crucial to ongoing communication and support. Our data validation and cleansing solutions help thousands of organisations accurately capture and maintain millions of contact records each year.

To find out how our solutions could benefit your organisation contact or call 01624 811711.

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