While perusing Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I came across a tweet that caught my eye. No, not another amusing clip of dog chasing its tail or a cat in a hat but a note from a women who had just received a letter addresses to her husband. The letter was to advise him that, as he had been identified as being in a vulnerable category – due to an underlying condition – he should self-isolate to protect himself from Covid-19.
Why is that worthy of a post on Twitter you may ask? Well, it turns out her husband had sadly passed away 4 years ago – yes FOUR YEARS AGO! From the tone of the Tweet it sounded like she didn’t know whether to cry or laugh but ultimately, she was left with a negative impression of the sender – as would anyone in a similar situation or just reading the tweet.
This is a shocking example of bad data management having a very real impact on an individual. Clearly, the potential for causing unnecessary distress is huge – and I suspect this experience is being replicated in thousands of households across the UK. For many, sadly the loss will be a lot more recent than four years ago – and as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. With even more potential for causing pain and creating the worst impression!
And it is not just local authorities who could be inadvertently sending out communications to deceased individuals. Retail, financial service and utility providers and not-for-profits are also sending out communications to deceased individuals via mail and email. Everything from mail order catalogues, special offers, subscriptions, charity appeals to travel brochures and other well-meaning communications. These are, naturally, being received, opened and read by relatives and loved ones. A formula for distress and bad press.
Of course, any distress and damage is unintentional – as you would assume that no businesses would knowingly send communications to a deceased individual. Here lies the biggest frustration of this scenario – it is very easily avoided if the right data management practices are in place.
It may not be the sexiest aspect of data – but data cleansing should categorically be a fundamental aspect of data management practices for all government bodies, businesses and not-for-profits.
With a choice of different providers and a range of services available to suit any requirements and frequency – managed, self-service, automated, integrated via API for real-time screening – there really is no excuse to be contacting deceased individuals!
Don’t be the cause of unnecessary distress and protect your reputation by implementing a regular deceased screening service ASAP. Especially given the current circumstances – why risk it?