The Neue Pressegesellschaft, or “NPG,” is an umbrella company that manages a collection of digital and printed media entities. From daily newspapers, magazines, and advertising papers to radio and TV, the company based in the southwest and east of Germany reaches a massive daily audience. With their daily newspapers SÜDWEST PRESSE, Märkische Oderzeitung, and Lausitzer Rundschau, they reach an audience of over one million people. It therefore goes without saying that timeliness, accuracy, and consistency are part of everyday life at NPG to ensure professional delivery that satisfies their clients, as well as their audience.
For the B2C side of their operation, NPG uses Salesforce, and in 2020, as part of a broader data-quality initiative, they set out on a mission to reach a 360-degree customer view. Jennifer Herr, Salesforce Admin at NPG, laughs, suggesting a 100% customer 360-degree view is “impossible” - yet the aim was to improve their data to get as close as possible. However, soon after taking on this project, realizations began to take place, which placed the quality of their data into the spotlight. Cluttered with duplicate records, NPG was propelled into taking a proactive approach to their data woes. When NPG realized native features of Salesforce didn't have the teeth for the job, they knew they needed to turn somewhere else.
In this exclusive case study with Plauti, we sit down with NPG Salesforce Admin Jennifer Herr and Salesforce user Katja Gloßmann to learn about the data quality issues they faced and how NPG addressed these challenges with the help of Plauti Duplicate Check.
The Challenge of Duplicate Data
It often takes a catalyst event to bring the issue of data quality to attention inside an organization. This event might be a merger, an acquisition, a data integration project, or a customer complaint. Whatever form the event takes, it often serves as the spark that ignites the issue of data quality, and just like a fire, data quality is an issue that will spread unless taken care of.
The first signs of data-related issues emerged at NPG shortly after the implementation of Salesforce Sales Cloud as part of NPG’s move towards a 360-degree customer view. Jennifer shared her insights on this matter when asked about first noticing data-related problems, saying, “Shortly after our launch of Salesforce, we had around 1 million accounts in the Cloud. This data comes from a wide variety of sources and contains different kind information. It was therefore difficult for us to recognize duplicates.”
Furthermore, as NPG wanted to automate more tasks through the Sales Cloud & Marketing Cloud, they found that duplicate data was becoming a major roadblock in this area. Jennifer explains this situation further; “We use a lot of different automations. Duplicates have complicated the development and expansion of these automated processes. If we came across a duplicate with one of our automated processes, it was hard for the system to identify which was the correct record and which was not.”
Like air to the lungs, subscribers are what keep any news and media organization thriving, and naturally, losing subscriptions is something to avoid at all costs. As NPG manages several media platforms, managing customer information with precision is essential. And, since NPG was receiving customer information from various sources, dealing with subscription information started to become a source of headaches and confusion. Jennifer expands on this problem; “Sometimes our readers use different contact details when they get in touch with us. For example, they subscribe to our newspapers with one e-mail address and enter competitions or webinars with another e-mail address.”Issues like this can alarming when discovered, as it erodes trust.
Salesforce native approach
Since their move towards a customer 360-degree view, it was clear to NPG that the proliferation of duplicate data couldn’t continue much longer, and a solution was needed to mitigate this issue moving forward. The first approach NPG took was attempting to fix the issues using native features of Salesforce. Unfortunately, this approach is not practical or feasible. This isn’t a stab at Salesforce in any way. Salesforce is an excellent product, but Salesforce is not built as a data quality management tool. The simple fact is that the native Salesforce features for deduplication are not nearly sophisticated enough to deal with large sets of complex data. Jennifer backs this statement up when discussing their experience using Salesforce features for data cleaning; “We tried the Salesforce standard to merge duplicates, but we soon found out it wasn't enough for our data complexity."
Finding a partner to help NPG combat poor data
In their quest to overcome the duplicate data challenge and having realized relying on native Salesforce functionality was a dead end, it was time to look for a more robust and effective method to deal with their challenge. But who or what? Having never dealt with this issue before, finding a trusted solution partner was priority number one and something NPG couldn’t afford to waste more time on.
It was in 2021 that NPG came across Plauti Duplicate Check and began exploring a relationship to help address their unique situation. After an introductory call and subsequent demo discussing their challenge, NPG decided Plauti was the way to move forward and forge a new standard for data quality at NPG.
When speaking to Plauti today and looking back at where things started, it’s clear from Jennifer and Katja that the improvements at NPG have been profound, thanks to cleaner data. Not only has NPG seen a huge reduction in duplicate data, but they have also seen great improvements in customer subscription information, as well as better automation flows. The benefits of the data quality initiative are clearly making a tangible impact on NPG that is felt throughout the organization. Jennifer remarks how much of it was done automatically; "Plauti is a great help to us. The tool effortlessly merged over 90 % of the detected duplicate records automatically, significantly reducing the need for manual intervention.” With cleaner data at hand, NPG also felt customer interactions were smoother and less prone to mistakes.
“ Over 90% of our merged duplicates were merged by Plauti automatically - we just had to look at the complex ones, which was 10% or less. ”Jennifer Herr Salesforce Admin at NPG
The problem with duplicate data is not only the confusion it creates but also the time spent having to clean it up. For a company looking to automate many processes, spending time manually cleaning data is an almost ironic task; why not automate data cleaning? When talking about time spent on cleaning data before the introduction of Duplicate Check, the impact on time management was astounding. Jennifer noted, "90% of the time we spent on cleaning data is now free for something else because Plauti is supporting us." This improvement in their efficiency has allowed the NPG team to allocate their time to more strategic initiatives. Jennifer adds a remark on the urgency of their decision, stating, "We are very happy we didn't wait another year."
A trusted partnership
While improved performance and fewer duplicates are all great outcomes observed by NPG, it might be easy to assume that installing some software or running some code is all it takes to fix data problems in any organization. And, while a crucial aspect of data quality is indeed technology, it is only one aspect of the bigger picture. An important part of the picture is something that often gets missed in technical conversations: the people. Having the right people to advise and support a company's work through its challenges is an invaluable part of the process. It’s like you’re going on a hike through a mountainous terrain, and instead of having to navigate the route alone, you have a guide with you, pointing out shortcuts and areas to avoid.
In the same way, the relationship between NPG and Plauti was characterized by trust, collectively caring about the outcome, and reaching the finish line together. Jennifer highlighted this part of the experience; "I find the relationship between Plauti and NPG to be trusting and service-oriented. I always know that if I need something or need help, someone from the Plauti team is there to find the best solution with me."
Innovation means change
In the realm of data management, development never stops -nor should it. It’s one thing to make a good product – it’s something else to make sure a good product remains a leader. The ability to innovate and adapt to changes in the market can differentiate one product from another. In this regard, we believe Plauti stands proud. We’re constantly innovating, upgrading, and improving our products wherever we can, and the best reward for this is hearing that our customers are using new features. We take the time to listen to our customer’s needs and suggestions and incorporate their feedback into our development plan. NPG also remarked on Plauti's commitment to product optimization. Jennifer shared, "What we also really appreciate is that we can see that Plauti always optimizes their products. We really enjoy having new features, and our new favorite feature is the new Plauti Cloud."
“ What we also really appreciate is that we can see that Plauti always optimizes their products. We really enjoy having new features, and our new favorite feature is the new Plauti Cloud. ”Jennifer Herr Salesforce Admin at NPG
As we begin to conclude this case study, we’ve learned that NPG's pursuit of a 360-degree customer view was impeded by duplicate records issues within their Salesforce data. When it became clear that native Salesforce functionality wasn’t enough to resolve this issue, NPG decided a 3rd party solution was needed.
When discussing how things have changed at NPG since they started using Duplicate Check, we were pleased to learn that NPG have noticed a remarkable improvement in data quality. As is normally the case, improvements in data quality have had a ripple of positive effects, including helping NPG move closer to their goal of a customer 360-degree view. This achievement is not only possible due to Plauti Duplicate Check but also stems from the efforts of all parties involved in the journey. As we’ve pointed out, improving data quality is not simply installing an application – it’s a change in attitude that comes from within an organization. When this change in attitude is boosted with the right tools, remarkable change is inevitable. NPG is another case demonstrating the power of this collective goal. They are not merely a customer of Plauti. They are a partner helping us understand ourselves better, a mirror that tells us if we're doing the right job.