Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a tool that helps you manage interactions with your customers and leads. It can help you gain deeper customer intelligence, improve sales efficiency and coordinate all your customer engagement efforts across the business.
Clean CRM data will save you time searching for information, help you to avoid missing leads or deadlines, makes hand-over of work to other team members run smoothly and enhances your reporting to Senior Management teams.
When you are confident with your data, you can use it to make informed decisions that will benefit your organisation. Keeping a clean CRM, which is a way to use your system effectively, should therefore be top priority at your company.
So, how do you get your data clean and keep it that way?
1. Consider what the data is used for
- Do you need full addresses to post brochures?
- Do you have up to date email addresses to send your latest blog?
- Have you telephone numbers to call your leads?
- Is there a full list of purchases so you know what to offer next?
- What information is needed as an absolute minimum?
- Who needs to use the data?
2. New data – Well begun is nearly done
How is your data collected?
When you get new data about a new customer or lead find out all you can about the contact and enter the facts into CRM without delay to assist your sales staff with good lead data.
Even if you have a website form that just asks for Name, Company and Email details for a download; make sure that you collect all data you need for your contact record in CRM. You may have to pick up the phone to get this information or use the Internet to collect company information from the business website or Companies House and even LinkedIn. In this way you will be ready to go if a sale or contact is made – all the data will be there!
Are you importing data?
Clean the import list first and make sure all the formatting is correct. Column headers should match those used in your CRM database. Ask for help from your IT team if needed here.
3. Make CRM training a priority
Do you have many users of your CRM? Make sure all know how to use the software effectively and correctly. Full training should be provided for all new users so that they know what all fields are for, and if an employee leaves a company make sure their records are reassigned to a new user.
It is not just following good GDPR practice to make sure data is accurate and up to date. There is value in the data that your company owns. It makes sense to appreciate this value. However, data decays with time – people change jobs, companies change address or merge and purchases and enquiries are made.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the European Union (EU) legislation/law that safeguards the rights and freedom of EU citizens by protecting their personal data against security breaches. GDPR has changed the way businesses collect, store and use customer data.
There are now significant risks in using inaccurate data. For example, the law states ‘data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date’. It is, therefore, now more important than ever before to delete any data that is wrong or to unsubscribe users if they request it.
As well as possible damage to your business reputation, there are severe consequences to non-compliance to GDPR which include penalty fines up to 20 million euros (or 4% of turnover, whichever if the larger) and a risk of class-action lawsuits from data breach victims.
Cleaning out unwanted records leaves you with a smaller tighter list to work with. Make sure all users are fully trained in how to use the program and know why clean data is important. Create a CRM Policy and Procedures Document to help all users of your CRM system avoid entering poor data in the first place.
4. Look at what you have
Export all your data to a spreadsheet to look for basic duplication and missing data. Good fields to start with would be email address, telephone number and postcodes. You can also spot obvious data import errors in this way too. You might even find some long-lost information fields in your data that you never knew you had.
Once duplicates are sorted you can work on any missing data. Website addresses can be gleaned from company email addresses and websites can give you a lot of helpful information. For example. trading addresses, company registration numbers and contact telephone numbers.
5. Ongoing cleaning strategy
A big purge on cleaning can be useful to get you going, but once done consider giving all users or teams one field that they manage:
- Telemarketing teams can make sure telephones numbers are accurate and include any STD or dialling codes
- Credit Control teams need an accurate invoicing address or an accounts email address
- Sales teams can make sure all opportunities and price lists are up to date
If everyone has a job / field that they are responsible for in CRM it will soon be much healthier (and you can spot gaps and new errors more quickly too).
6. Assign a CRM Data Manager
Consider having a CRM Data Manager at your company to check the integrity of your data overall or through sample tests:
- Where is the data being imported from?
- Who is uploading data or entering data?
- What fields are being used / not used?
- What fields are still relevant?
- How old is the data?
- How many duplicate records are in the database?
- Is there any poor formatting, abbreviations or incorrect data in certain fields?
- What data is missing?
- Are there any unresponsive contacts that could be purged?
- Are there any old product lists or tasks that could be archived?
7. Use mandatory fields and data validation checkers
Some data is just too important not to have – decide what this is and make those fields mandatory at data entry in your CRM database.
Data Validation checkers can be very effective in making sure meaningful data is entered into a field. This could avoid text notes going where telephone numbers should be for example. It is also good for checking URL’s for website fields, email addresses and postcodes for GPS routing systems.
Drop-down choices for some fields where you must make a choice will avoid typing mistakes in your data too.
8. Bring in the professionals
Finally, remember that the use of data cleaning and verifying experts is often more cost effective than asking your sales staff to keep the data clean – they should be concentrating on your sales efforts. Use them if you have a budget.
By following the steps above, you'll have clean data that you can work with which will help towards your marketing initiatives - but what else can you do with your data?