BACKGROUND: From its headquarters in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Lens Express, Inc., sells more contact lenses than anyone else in the world. Lens Express sells directly to more than 1 million customers through their toll-free phone lines and Web site. It guarantees the lowest price for any brand and any prescription. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Summit Technologies.

PLATFORMS: UNIX with a PICK-based programming language, Universe database system and Masterpack order entry software.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Undeliverable package shipments caused by bad addresses were costing the company several thousand dollars each month. An outside service bureau provided address cleansing and standardizing, but not in real time. Consequently, products sent to first-time customers frequently were undeliverable. Using an outside data cleansing service also increased expenses. Lens Express purchased the i.d.Centric Data Quality Software to cleanse and standardize phone and Web site order entries in real time. The software has helped Lens Express cut expenses, speed delivery, reduce undeliverable orders and satisfy customers with prompt service. Lens Express has significantly decreased bad address returns and reduced undeliverables. Money saved by using the software will pay for the solution in less than a year. Packages often arrive faster because the software adds the ZIP+4 code. It is 100 percent mission critical that Lens Express' database stay current, clean and compliant. The i.d.Centric software is important in this regard.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: This data quality software is a crucial e-commerce tool for Lens Express. On-line orders are at great risk for problems because a representative does not speak with the customer or scrutinize Web orders for spelling errors or missing address information. The i.d.Centric software questions any possible errors and suggests corrections to many errors. It corrects wrong ZIP codes and dropped letters in street names. It verifies street numbers by range. The result is a less expensive credit card transaction for Lens Express and a faster on-line transaction for customers. For phone orders, i.d.Centric software checks the database to see if a customer is already entered. If not, a sales rep proceeds with a new customer entry. As the rep keys in a new entry, the software automatically standardizes the address to meet U.S. Postal Service requirements. Before the representative can proceed to the next order entry screen, customer information is cross-referenced with the U.S. Postal Service database. It then prompts the sales rep if there's a problem with any part of the address. The rep corrects the problem by questioning the customer or changing any keystroke errors. Some address corrections are done automatically, saving time and keystrokes. Lens Express also uses the software to cleanse and standardize customer information obtained from outgoing prospecting calls. The data quality software flags any problems; and if it can't automatically correct the problem, a representative calls the customer.

STRENGTHS: The i.d.Centric Data Quality Software works just as it's described in the documentation. The solution was easy to integrate into our UNIX environment and works well with our Universe database system and Masterpack order entry software.

WEAKNESSES: The software only validates on a range within a street segment; therefore, some keystroke errors may go undetected.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose i.d.Centric software because we were already familiar with it. Our outside data cleansing service used it, so we knew it met our needs.

DELIVERABLES: The i.d.Centric Data Quality Software contains standardized addresses that comply to U.S. Postal Service guidelines. It provides documentation necessary to receive discounted postal rates. Nothing enters our database before it's cleansed and standardized in real time.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support was good. We wrote our own UNIX shell scripts, which allowed i.d.Centric software to communicate with our Masterpack order entry software. Firstlogic understood our needs from the beginning and provided helpful technical support where needed.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is excellent. The i.d.Centric software is straightforward. When a question arises, we usually find the answer in the documentation. The program is easy, and we now have little need to refer to the documentation.

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