Thomas Sanderson Blinds

Pulling Together
Thomas Sanderson has grown from a family-run business into a national company providing Conservatory Blinds, Window Blinds and Shutters. Right now, even during the recession, the firm continues to thrive

Many factors are at play including a definite sense of community and ‘pulling together’ which retains the magic of the family-run business. Also, the blinds and shutters are at the quality end of the market – everything is handmade – and design consultants and installers are highly professional.

Marketing Activity
There is a strong focus on marketing and lead generation activities. A wide range of channels are used including direct mail, page advertising, outbound telemarketing, partnerships with conservatory and building firms, referrals from designers and internet promotion. The sales and marketing activity means that Thomas Sanderson has a database of over a million records and sends a significant volume of direct mail each month.

Jane Nichols, responsible for fulfilling brochure requests, says: “Contact data arrives daily from a variety of sources in electronic format. However, the data formats and the quality of the address data differ widely and contain errors and omissions such as a missing town. We have to be able to fix this quickly, every day”

Foundation for Communication
Jane, who operates AFD Refiner daily for cleansing batches of address data, continues: “It doesn’t matter what format the data is received in – Refiner will put it into the format we use for address data and sort out poor spelling, missing postcodes and the many other errors that occur with address data. Refiner lays a good foundation for professional communication and analysis. During cleansing Refiner adds the Delivery Point Suffix (DPS) which makes it even easier to identify potential duplicate records and to avoid adding these to the database.” Thomas Sanderson is now taking automation a step further by integrating entirely automatic cleansing using the Refiner API.

Kelly Dubrok, Thomas Sanderson Planning and Insights Manager underlines the importance of this process: “We are a large user of carefully targeted Direct Mail, sending well over a million items each year. The mail needs to arrive at its destination – without irritating and annoying errors in the name or address and duplicate envelopes. Using AFD helps us get these important details right.”

Welcoming and Fast
Gary Cornish is an Appointing Operator who works in the team which receives hundreds of inbound telephone calls each day from potential customers requesting brochures. He explains: “Callers expect the phone to be answered without delay and their details to be recorded efficiently. We can’t control when people will call – which means there can be ‘peaks’ in the number of people calling. When this happens we need to be both welcoming and fast.”

Gary continues “Names & Numbers is fully integrated with our internally written systems. We just ask the caller for the first line of their address and the postcode. AFD help us minimise the number of abandoned calls during peak times by reducing the time taken to enter these details byup to 90%. Where we cannot find the accurate address from the postcode we can ‘reverse search’ by any details such as street name and number or telephone number.”

Unscramble and Translate
Other leads and enquiries are received by fax and on handwritten lists – these too must be unscrambled and entered accurately into the Thomas Sanderson database. Kelly explains: “At exhibitions some visitors will only give us their postcode, name and house number – it’s up to us to translate this into accurate data so that we can follow-up.” In each of these cases AFD Names & Numbers is deployed to rapidly validate name and address data and to weed out suspicious contact details.

What we want – for the right price
For over fourteen years, as the Thomas Sanderson business has grown, their use of the AFD Postcode range has grown with them. Initially the firm used AFD Postcode which validates addresses to street level. Today both Names & Numbers and Refiner are a core part of the processes that ensure wherever new sales leads or prospect lists are entered, they are validated. Declan Hillier, Lead Developer for Thomas Sanderson internal systems, concludes: “As the business continues to develop we are upgrading our systems. Having looked at alternatives, we have decided to stay with AFD and are migrating Names & Numbers to .NET. AFD don’t charge for platform migration or for program upgrades. Names & Numbers and Refiner do what we want, at the right price.”

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