Making the Case for NCOA

5 minute read

NCOA stands for National Change of Address, a service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that allows companies to update their customer databases with the latest address information. This service is crucial for enterprise companies as it helps them maintain accurate and up-to-date customer data.

By using NCOA, companies can ensure their mail, such as marketing materials or invoices, reaches the intended recipients at their current address. This helps avoid wasted resources and improves the overall effectiveness of direct mail campaigns and regular customer communications. NCOA address correction also improves the ability for companies to leverage customer address data to analyze sales patterns, allocate service territories, and other activities unrelated to mailed material. By regularly updating their customer databases with the latest address information, companies benefit from a complete and reliable view of their customer base.

NCOA address verification works by comparing the postal addresses in a company’s files with the USPS database of address changes. When the software finds a match, the company updates its records with the new address data. NCOA has information on individuals, families, and businesses that have moved and notified the USPS. 

It is important to understand that matching company records to the NCOA database relies on the company-supplied address data to be standardized and formatted according to USPS guidelines. This is why a comprehensive software product like Address IQ® by Firstlogic is critical. Address IQ standardizes addresses, corrects misspellings, and adds missing information, ensuring the customer data returned by NCOA address validation is correct and complete.

Move Update Statistics

USPS data tells us over 30 million Americans change their addresses annually. For businesses, this rapid and widespread change presents a unique challenge: how to maintain updated customer data amidst significant volatility. 

The figures confirm the cost-saving potential of NCOA updates. Compared to the staggering costs associated with undeliverable mail ($20 billion a year, as estimated by the USPS) the investment in NCOA services pales in comparison. Businesses using NCOA can expect a significant decrease in waste and fiscal inefficiencies caused by outdated mailing data. 

NCOA address verification is not just cost-effective, but enables improved business communication. Companies that use NCOA regularly will experience improved response rates from their direct marketing campaigns, largely due to the improved accuracy of their customer data.

The Role of NCOA in Data Quality Management

NCOA plays a pivotal role in data quality management, providing a framework that facilitates streamlined interaction with customers. NCOA serves as a crucial asset for businesses intent on dynamic data quality management. 

Customer databases can become outdated quickly. People move often, and companies struggle to stay current. This is where NCOA steps in, serving as an authoritative database. The USPS only requires mailers to make use of move update methods ninety days before a mailing to qualify for discounted postage. However, most mailing professionals will process their files against NCOA before every mailing to make sure their data is as correct as possible.

After completing NCOA data verification, businesses can fine tune their data through more services such as DPV® (Delivery Point Validation), LACS (Locatable Address Conversion System), and SuiteLink®. These services that enhance and ensure the validity and accuracy of the data are also offered as part of Firstlogic’s Address IQ product.

Some organizations expand their move update process by incorporating proprietary address change data (PCOA) to identify movers who did not file a change of address notice with the USPS. PCOA is available through another Firstlogic product, Enhance IQ®.

When businesses finish the address updating process, they have a clean, updated customer database which holds the power to improve the business’s operations. NCOA plays a crucial role in minimizing the risk of mail being sent to out-of-date addresses, a wasteful practice for businesses. A clean and accurate customer database reduces waste and aids in compliance with USPS mailing standards. 

Data quality management is not a static undertaking. It’s a dynamic ongoing process where precision, accuracy, and up-to-date information are important. NCOA address verification, in this scope, serves to provide businesses with the information they need to manage their customer data effectively. They can increase efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, the bottom line.

What NCOA Does

NCOA aids in updating and verifying the latest postal address information in enterprise databases. By obtaining data directly from the USPS, businesses are assured of exact information about individuals and businesses that moved during the previous four years. 

Companies may not access NCOA-supplied data for any other use besides updating their internal records. The USPS prohibits organizations from segmenting their data or otherwise singling out recent movers to target them with advertising or solicitations. Companies may, however, send a mailpiece to a customer’s new address to verify they have moved. In some regulated industries, mailers may not change a customer’s address of record without the express authorization of the customer.

What NCOA Doesn’t Do

Despite its valuable role in data quality management, NCOA has certain unavoidable limitations. It cannot furnish information on everyone who has moved. If an individual or business has not notified the USPS of their move, or if the change is too recent to have been recorded in the database, the system will not report the address change. 

NCOA does not log temporary changes of address and cannot provide addresses for moves that are over 48 months old or less than 4-6 weeks old. 

Business address changes only refer to business moves. NCOA will not track the movement of employees who change jobs and move from one company to another.

You Can’t Let Address Quality Decay

Maintaining up-to-date and accurate customer data is a determining factor in a company’s success. NCOA address validation is an indispensable tool in achieving this accuracy. Companies can minimize losses, make cost-effective decisions, and enhance the results of their postal marketing campaigns by using this tool. Without an active address quality protocol, your customer address data becomes progressively more out of date every month.

An effective product that efficiently interfaces with NCOA data is equally essential. This is where Firstlogic’s Address IQ® comes into the fold with its reliable NCOA functionality. Apart from facilitating the retrieval of fresh address data from the USPS, the software includes a wide range of other impressive address quality features that contribute to any organization’s data quality objectives.