I went to a bank yesterday to inquire why I was receiving mail at my old address despite having moved a number of months ago. The first thing the representative did was pull up my record to show me that my address was correct in their system. While that’s very nice, the mail has their name on it. What’s more, I have received mail from this bank at my correct address already.
Then the representative tells me he’ll try to change it again in case the other person didn’t do it right. While doing this he finds the problem and shows it to me. This bank, in all their wisdom, has the customer’s mailing address on two screens. A representative must make the change in two places.
Lessons from this:
- Scott blogged about normalization last year. Having information in two places invites one to be wrong. And we aren’t talking about the name of the state here. Customer address is a piece of information you would expect to change over time.
- If you do have the same data in two places, you should write code that updates both rather than require people to do it.