In many cases, getting a CRM up and running is a challenging, time-consuming task which requires lots of resources. There are many hoops for a business to jump through before the system can even go online. There is planning, assessment, drawing up specifications, designing and developing the system, and that is before you even get to the nuts and bolts of installation and implementation. Depending on your scenario, you may have to integrate or replace existing systems, handle support and training, and also administer any future updates or required upgrades. There is plenty to get done but once you do, the benefits are certainly worth the effort.
Getting a CRM implemented is one thing, actually getting it to work successfully – getting it to help your business grow – is an altogether different proposition. Without good data management techniques supporting its operation, you are unlikely to realize the true potential of your investment.
In this article, we present you with a few data management tips to help you do exactly that.
What is CRM Data Management?
A properly implemented CRM could be the engine that drives your business’ success. Running with that analogy, data is the fuel that runs that engine. Fed with bad fuel, your car may keep going for a while, but it won’t be long before it sputters to a halt. Just as the quality of your fuel is crucial to the running of your engine, data quality is essential to the efficiency of your CRM. CRM data management is the process that makes sure that your company’s engine is always running smoothly.
How Poor Data Management Can Affect Your Business
Without good data management strategies, your CRM can quickly become a thorn in your flesh. Inaccuracies can lead to problems that directly affect your customers. Bearing in mind that a CRM is meant to manage the relationship with your clients, if it is fed with bad data, your CRM may in fact start to damage those relationships.
For example, because of entry errors, emails may be sent to the wrong addresses, leading to all kinds of chaos, and many disgruntled customers. Or they may not arrive at all, and this may cause communication breakdowns. Simply put, a failure of your Customer Relationship Management will likely cause a disruption of your relationship with your client.
There are also legal and regulatory ramifications to poor management. You may fail to protect private information from breaches and run afoul of protection laws, or leave your business open to lawsuits in the event of data loss.
Common Data Quality Issues
Broadly, the most common problems related to quality can be categorized into two groups. The first pertains to consistency with formatting. The data stored in your CRM system may be accurate, but formatted in such a way that it cannot be properly interpreted by the system. Examples include errors with spelling, or inconsistent formatting. This means there will be difficulties with searches, indexing, ultimately affecting the reliability of any outputs and reports that the CRM system will produce.
The second group relates to data that is inherently inconsistent with the actual state of things. This means the data itself is inaccurate, there are gaps, or inconsistencies such as duplications or omissions.
Strictly adhering to CRM data entry best practices and ensuring any staff feeding data into the system are properly trained on how to do CRM data entry can help you avoid these issues.
16 CRM Data Management Best Practices & Strategies
Here are a few tips to help you steer clear of CRM data management trouble and ensure your system is functioning and reporting as it should:
Outline Your Business Goal
Data is easier to manage and organize when you don’t have to collect or sort through piles of irrelevant records. Setting business goals helps you determine what information you need in order to achieve those goals. By collecting only the information your operations need, you reduce the opportunities for error, reduce the load on storage resources, and give your staff and CRM’s efficiency by taxing them less.
Make Sure the Existing Data Is Up to Date and Clean
Most of the issues that come with CRM data management have to do with accuracy. Rooting out existing issues within the data you have is an absolutely essential part of the whole management process. Regularly ensure your records are current, eliminate duplications, and identify entries with missing information.
Automate Data Entry
Regularly cleaning up your data ensures your CRM stays healthy. You can take an even more proactive approach by eliminating, or at least significantly reducing, human error from your systems using automation. This means things like formatting issues, spelling errors, and other mistakes that are often made by people are automatically done away with. In addition to this, you also get the time savings and efficiency improvements that come with automation.
Standardize The Data Management Process
Good management should not be an occasional undertaking. It should be the norm. This means that every staff member that interacts with your CRM understands the steps they need to take to correctly and accurately capture and store data in the system. Do this by developing clear and concise workflows, and ensure your staff strictly adhere to them.
Regularly Check Your Database Accuracy & Completeness
Databases come with tools to help you manage the data they store. Regularly run checks to assess the state of your database. Using tools like filters, you can ensure that there are no gaps, and running exception reports will help you make sure duplications are identified and handled on a regular basis.
Cleanup Inactive Contacts
If your contacts are bloated with inactive users, this will skew reports on the effectiveness of your campaigns, and will waste resources on leads that have little chance of converting. Ensuring that your database is populated only with active users helps you receive a more representative picture of the state of affairs, what’s working, and what isn’t.
Make Sure Your CRM is Mobile-friendly
A lot of information comes from the field operations of your staff. Having a mobile-friendly system ensures they are able to record it as they operate on the move, as opposed to doing it all at once when they are back at a desktop station. By updating records as they receive them, they are less likely to have missing information, and less likely to make the errors that occur with the fatigue of manually entering high volumes of data.
Validate All Data That Comes In
Ensure the quality of the data you have by implementing validation measures during the entry process. For example, email addresses that you get should be verified by the user to ensure they are current, have been entered correctly, and are responsive. Validation at the source will reduce the amount of work you have to do cleaning it up afterwards.
Import Only Essential and Complete Data
If you have outlined your business goals, and have implemented protocols for data entry, this will help guarantee that the data being fed into your system is actually useful for your business operations, and is complete enough to be usable. Apart from that, it helps reduce the load on your database and improve its performance by keeping it as lean as possible.
Enrich Lead Data
You can add more information to the data on your leads to help you improve and enrich the quality of service you offer them. This can be done using CRM tools or manually, depending on the use case.
Stick to the Right Data Format
Maintaining and adhering to a standardized format makes CRM tasks much easier. The data can reliably be sorted, filtered, and tasks like automation become much more dependable because poorly formatted records will not be missed or skipped.
Avoid Duplicate Records
Duplicate records will skew statistics, make reports unreliable, put an unnecessary load on resources, and from the customer’s perspective, might affect their experience with your company. You might spam them with repeated messages for example. Clean up your data to improve performance and ensure the customer is properly served.
Visualize Your Data
Using visualization tools gives you a better perspective of large volumes of information. This is useful for big-picture strategic decision-making, but also for identifying, prioritizing, and addressing issues with the quality of your data. If there are fields that are missing in many of your records, for instance, this is easier to see if everything is somehow tabulated. You can then quickly take corrective measures.
Have a Data Recovery Strategy
There are many situations in which data could be lost. Hardware can fail, human error, malicious software – there is a whole list of possible threats. You can safeguard your data against them, this is the common-sense approach, but it is also a good idea to prepare for the worst. Databases have tools for backing up your data and easily recovering it so that your operations are not badly affected. Ensure you are always prepared for this scenario.
Make Sure Your Data is Protected and Secure
There isn’t much that is worse than losing your data. It is the most crucial aspect of your business operations. A full or partial loss could be catastrophic. Ensure your security protocols are watertight, and the IT infrastructure is failsafe and you have contingencies in place in the event of a breach. Not only will this protect an irreplaceable resource, it will also ensure you stay compliant on the legal front.
Train Your Team to Adopt CRM Data Management
Any measures you decide to take are only as effective as your ability to implement them. This is reflected in the willingness and ability of your staff to carry out the required tasks. Ensure you bring them on board with training that equips them with the necessary skills, and the understanding of the benefits of good management.
Your CRM can be a source of enormous benefit for your business. It will improve things for your enterprise as a whole, and make life easier for your staff as well. To paraphrase an overused cliche, if you take care of your CRM, it will take care of you – and your customers, it turns out. So ensure you keep things moving along smoothly by providing it with good data, so that your CRM, in turn, can give you insights you can depend on.