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List maintenance is the process of keeping a listing of any type current. Businesses operate with a number of lists throughout the corporate structure, with client listings and lists of approved vendors being two prime examples. The general concept of list maintenance is concerned with keeping these and other important lists owned by the company as accurate and timely as possible. This means that the process of maintaining these lists is an ongoing activity that must be performed at regular intervals.
There are three basic types of activities or transactions that occur during the process of list maintenance. The first activity is known as an add. This simply means that any new data relevant to the listing is added. For example, if the company establishes a contractual agreement with a new vendor, that vendor is added to the approved vendor listing, often including key information like the names and positions of key contacts, the start and end dates for the contract, and any other specifics that are necessary to properly delivering services to that customer.
The second type of transaction or activity that takes place during list maintenance is known as a delete or a remove. In this instance, data that was previously included on the list is taken off or removed. Should a customer choose to close his or her account, and settle any outstanding balances in full, that account is removed from the listing of active customers. While some businesses simply discard this data, others take the removed customer information and archive the data on a listing that is reserved for former customers.
A final step or transaction associated with list maintenance is known as the change. This normally involves updating some type of information that is already on an existing list. Should a customer undergo a merger and begin to do business under a new company name, that new name replaces the old name on all the customer records maintained by the supplier. With a customer profile that contains the name of key decision makers within the organization, a change may involve removing the name of someone who has left the company and substituting the name of his or her successor in the same field on the listing.
With any type of list maintenance activity, the idea is to keep the listing current. Doing so helps to minimize the opportunity for time and resources to be wasted by the usage of information that is outdated or no longer relevant. For example, maintaining current information on a customer listing helps to ensure that if the supplier wishes to conduct a direct mail campaign using the list, mailing pieces will not be sent out to former customers or to contacts that are no longer associated with the companies that make up the current customer base.