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Customer Relationship Management
September 2004

CEO SPOTLIGHT - Vinod Gupta, Founder and Chairman, infoUSA, Inc.


This month, the editors of Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine spoke with Vinod Gupta, the founder and chairman of infoUSA, Inc., a provider of sales and marketing support for products for all types of businesses, from small 'mom-and-pop' shops to large corporations.

CIS: Can you provide us with a bit of history and an overview of infoUSA?

VG: I started the company 32 years ago in my garage with a $100 investment. The basic principle of my company then is the same as today ' to provide business owners, salespeople and marketers with the best possible information to research, understand and grow their business. That simple idea has launched us into what we are today ' a $350 million publicly traded company. Our databases are the best in the world: 14 million businesses and 200 million consumers. I'm happy to say that we have four million customers who have used our products to find new customers, cut their selling costs and increase their profits.

CIS: How have recent privacy and accountability, not to mention telemarketing, restrictions and laws changed the way that infoUSA does business?

VG: The majority of infoUSA's revenue comes from our business database, where there are no privacy restrictions. On the consumer database side, it hasn't affected us that much because infoUSA has always been dedicated to protecting consumer information throughout our compilation and sales process. For example, we registered to receive the FTC do-not-call list on the first day it became available and have been using it ever since. Prior to the FTC do-not-call law, we received all available state do-not-call lists and suppressed those phone numbers from our database. While the sources of our databases come from publicly available information, we also take steps to help ensure the protection of sensitive data. We go through the exercise of finding out what company the caller works for and then reviewing a copy of the telemarketing script or direct marketing letter that they will be using before we sell them the list. In addition to infoUSA's responsibility to abide by privacy legislation, our customers need to understand the various laws and restrictions that impact their business. I see infoUSA's role as a guide to help our customers through that often confusing process. We can help companies make sure they are in compliance with federal and state do-not-call legislation by processing a company's current database against all do-not-call lists and then flag or remove persons who have registered. We also need to represent our customers' interests when appropriate as well, especially when laws are passed that might negatively affect their ability to grow their business.

CIS: What kinds of specialized processes do you undertake to make sure you're providing the freshest possible data to customers?

VG: Our entire compilation process is dedicated to exactly that ' providing the most accurate, relevant information to our clients. For example, we make over 20 million phone calls a year to verify the information in our business database. Nobody else in the industry does that. We also gather data from multiple sources to ensure our customers get nothing but the best, most accurate information. While other companies focus on businesses outside data compilation, infoUSA has re-doubled our efforts to improve database quality. Last year, we spent over $30 million in compilation expenses and continue to evaluate and add appropriate sources to our vast library of information. I believe that information is the underpinning of any enterprise ' and if you start with inaccurate data, the foundation of your business is weak. infoUSA is dedicated to helping businesses build a strong foundation by providing highly accurate information about their customers, suppliers and prospects.

CIS: What trends are you seeing in how companies are doing direct marketing?

VG: Business is up. Companies are doing more direct marketing, especially through e-mail and online channels. Believe me, every business owner, sales manager and vice president of marketing needs new customers. Today, buyers are more sophisticated and competition more fierce, which is why more companies are using targeted database information to improve their marketing efficiency and measure their return on investment.

CIS: What do you foresee in the future for this industry?

VG: I foresee further integration of marketing information through multiple marketing channels. Businesses are starting to recognize that multichannel management is an essential part of their business operations. You now have e-mail, postal, mass advertising, search engine; all these channels that need to have the same message, the same offer, the same branding. Each one of those channels represents an opportunity to understand your customer better. infoUSA's data have become an integral part of that process by offering insight and analysis into your customer information.

CIS: What exciting new things are happening at infoUSA?

VG: We're always finding new ways to help our customers use the information in our database to increase their sales and improve the quality of their customer relationships. For example, our Caller ID++ service allows businesses with call center operations to display key information on agents' screens before the call is answered. Benefits of this include reduction in data collection time, increased accuracy of data entry errors and more time for customer service.
A new product that infoUSA is very excited about is Sales Genie. With this, our customers get unlimited business and consumer sales leads and mailing lists with 12 different databases to choose from. They can select their criteria, sort, preview, select and download their sales leads and mailing lists within seconds ' however many they want, whenever they want.

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or HTML format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.


[ Return To The September 2004 Table Of Contents ]

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