How To Clean Up CRM Data To Grow Your Business
Customer relationship management (CRM) represents an approach to manage a company’s interaction with their network of current and potential customers.
Through the CRM approach and the systems used to facilitate it, businesses learn more about their target audiences and how to best cater to their needs.
Why the right CRM data input matters?
It’s easy to continue to add data to your CRM without really thinking about what you are doing – this is especially true when you have a lot of data to put in, and when you are performing repetitive tasks.
Perhaps you have been building a large data set only to discover when you actually looked at it that there were spelling errors, missing capitals, missing fields, or even styling problems that would make an email campaign a messy process that risks putting your customer reputation at jeopardy.
Or maybe many different people have access to your CRM and they all input data in different ways because you have no robust SOPs for them to adhere to.
In reality, these mistakes are difficult to avoid; when the data is entered by hand by humans, errors are bound to occur even if great care is taken (and data entry isn’t always a task in which there is great care).
The good news is, there are ways to clean up your CRM data to ensure that information is complete and consistent.
We’re not talking about going through everything by hand either; those who choose to go down this path often find the job takes a lot longer than the anticipated, and days easily turn into weeks. It’s best to stay away from this method if you can.
Luckily, there are other options; here are some of the ways it can be done.
Formatting and Case Problems
The error that most often occurs when it comes to inputting data into CRMs is incorrect formatting, and when entered by hand the instances of this happening increase even more.
The problem is, if you specify formatting requirements on an enquiry form, for example, asking for capital letters in the right places, you might lose a good lead.
Someone who finds they can’t input their data quickly (minus the capital letters and spaces in the right places) may become frustrated and rather than fix their own mistakes, they might simply look elsewhere and something that might have led to a huge business opportunity has slipped away.
When looking at the correct formatting, you should:
- Ensure proper case for contact names (first and last)
- Check phone number is correctly entered
- Check the address is formatted correctly for mailing
- Ensure email address is written in the right way
Although many of these errors may seem of little consequence, the image of your business could hang on them. Imagine someone has completed an enquiry form and written their name with a small first letter.
If left uncorrected, any mail sent out to them would also contain that small first letter, and this would look unprofessional, to the point that it could well cost you a sale.
Remove Whitespace and Unwanted Characters
Additional whitespace, such as a space between an email recipient’s name and a comma at the beginning of an email is one of the biggest signifiers that a customer is on the receiving end of a lazily merged campaign. Despite this, whitespace is regularly overlooked when cleaning up CRM data.
It’s best to remove whitespace (perhaps due to someone hitting space twice, for example) as this can cause plenty of formatting issues all by itself. The most efficient way to remove whitespace in data is to use VBA functions such as TRIM, LTRIM and RTRIM
When you have drop down menus for people to choose options from, data standardisation can be an issue.
You might have a number of people adding options to this data without realising that the information is already there. For example, if someone has to pick their profession within the enquiry form, there might be a number of options that mean the same thing – CEO and chief executive officer are identical positions, but clearly can be written in two different ways, for example.
Why is this a problem that needs to be dealt with (first by removing any unnecessary items from the list and then by standardising everything already inputted)?
It’s because searching within your data and filtering will be problematic if there are different variations for the same thing.
In the past, it was common for people to get a job and stay in it until retirement. Today this has changed, and now people change jobs relatively quickly, staying in one place just a few years (or even months) before moving on.
Therefore, it is crucial that you go through your CRM data to ensure that it is all up to date. If you have one person under two different job titles at two different companies, for example, you can remove the outdated information to ensure that you are only sending information to the right place.
Not only will doing this keep your CRM up to date and as useful as possible, but it could also help your networking ideas. You may need to get in touch with those who you are unsure of to check where they are working, and if you play it right, this could be an ideal way to reconnect.
You can also take this opportunity to remove anyone who has unsubscribed. This is especially important due to the GDPR rules, plus you wouldn’t want to alienate a potential future customer by spamming them with newsletters and mailshots that they have not asked for.
If you really want to tidy up your CRM you might also want to remove any contacts that have not engaged with you for a specific period of time. You can send out a ‘warning’ email letting them know that this is about to happen and for them to get in touch if they want to stay on your system just to make sure.
Sam Maley is the Head of Growth at Bailey & Associates, and IT consultancy firm in Cheshire UK.