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From Home Furnishing Business

Tapping Public Records With Technology

By Home Furnishings Business in Furniture Retailing on March 2007 Technology has the ability to make our lives a bit easier in every turn at work and at home.

And, without delving into the area of too much information to the point of creepy, that same technology can help you capture all sorts of information on potential consumers. Some
relevant, some not; it just depends on how far you want to dig.

So how much do you know about your customer?

A lot of retailers claim to know the ins and outs of what she€™s thinking before she walks through the door. They€™ve lumped her in with the majority of those in her income bracket, her age group and her family life, and by using those demographics, they have created a customer profile to help them better target the perfect customer.

Information Overload

The invention of the Internet and the easy accessibility to computers puts us in touch with all sorts of information about people in a few quick clicks. And while I€™ve always known how easy it can be to uncover information about folks€”I do work in the news business€”never had it slapped me so hard in the face as when recently I needed to reset a forgotten PIN for an investment account.

Most days I have a hard time keeping the boys€™ names straight, so remembering which PIN goes with which online site and which ATM card is a bit cumbersome. That said, recently I needed to reset my PIN for an investment account after I managed to lock myself out of the online access.

Dutifully, I dialed the toll-free number where the customer service representative said she€™d be happy to assist me, but first I€™d have to pass a series of security questions.

No problem, I thought, confident she would put me through the typical round of measures.

What I quickly learned was that this was no routine quiz. The investment fund had done its homework and created a background file on me.

The first question was about the cars I had purchased. She rattled off a list of four options, and I stammered, not remembering the year model of that Ford Explorer I€™d bought years ago. I guessed right, and we moved on.

She also asked the age range of my Mom, calling her by name, and gave me a multiple choice list of four counties where I had either lived or owned property. There was also another sort of question that I€™ve since forgotten, but she put me through a short quiz, requiring me to score 100 before pinging the system to allow me to reset my PIN.

Public Domain

As I was hanging up, it dawned on me that all of the questions she asked were in the public domain€”tax records, birth certificates, property transfers, and the list goes on. None of that information had I provided to the investment firm. Instead the company, concerned about identity theft, had done its research to ensure my security.

No doubt technology played a role in its thorough research of public records.

By no means am I suggesting that you plow through your customers€™ background in that great of detail, but with today€™s tools at your fingertips, the amount of relevant information that you can find is astonishing. And could very well help with boosting that ticket.

Property transfers and the filing of deeds are likely to be the most helpful in our industry because folks who fall into this section of the county courthouse are new homeowners and could be in the market for furniture.

Searching the public records is as simple as making a trip to the courthouse, and some of those counties may be online allowing you to search from your desktop.

Either way, venture out, give it a try and find some new customers. What could it hurt? HFB

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