How to clean your CRM data and keep it that way

Many people think a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is only for the Sales team. But your CRM actually contains information about the entire customer lifecycle that is useful to all departments. Integrating your CRM with other platforms, like marketing automation software, can create valuable ways to use data across multiple teams.

Everyone loses when the data stored in your CRM is disorganized, incomplete, or contains duplicates. The teams trying to use this data—like sales, marketing, or customer service—can get frustrated and lose opportunities to close deals, retain customers, or deliver excellent service. A disorganized CRM can result in missed customer conversions, a negative company reputation, and lost opportunities for revenue.

There are a few things that can help you organize your CRM, and after your data is clean, implement processes for keeping it that way. As a Gold Salesforce® consulting partner, Rackspace is an expert in CRM data management and has helped thousands of businesses implement, use, and maintain their CRM systems.

Here are four strategies for cleaning and maintaining your CRM data.

Delete or merge duplicate records

The first step in organizing your CRM database is deleting duplicates. Records can be duplicated for many reasons, such as multiple team members entering the same data on different dates, a data import that does not account for existing records, or a customer submitting data more than once. However they arrive in the system, duplicates should be removed or merged with their existing counterparts.

If you have thousands of records, the idea of manually identifying and removing duplicates can be daunting and seem unrealistic.

Here are some tactics to help with this process:

  • Use a duplicate-check application. Some programs, including Salesforce, have free applications that check for duplicates.
  • Use a case merge application like Case Merge Premium. This program not only looks for duplicates but also automatically merges all of them at once.
  • Block duplicates at the point of entry. After you clean up existing duplicates, find out if your CRM has a native feature to block duplicate cases at the point of entry. If so, you can stop future duplicates immediately by alerting users when they attempt to create one.

Limit the number of administrative users

To reduce and prevent duplicate records, consider limiting the number of team members who have full administrative privileges within the system. CIO recommends limiting the number of administrators with full system access to six. Of course, this is a guideline. The right number for you might depend on the size of your company and the nature of your business.

Limiting the number of administrators help you to maintain your processes and could prevent an inexperienced team member from accidentally deactivating an important duplicate checker.

Create standard practices around data entry

Data can also become problematic when vital information is missing or inconsistently recorded. By creating standard processes for CRM record entry, you can avoid these issues. The more detailed the records, the faster your duplicate checker can detect duplication.

Analyze your data. Are there clear, consistent rules and practices around entering the following information points?

  • Name: Do you include only formal names or are nicknames acceptable? Are names capitalized?
  • Address: How are physical addresses abbreviated? If a user gets a new address, do you delete the old one or keep it in a secondary field?
  • Households: Should users link entries for people who live at the same address?
  • Job titles: Are titles written out or abbreviated? A simple difference between “Doctor” and “Dr.” can create an undetected duplicate record.
  • Notes: How should users work with the notes field? For example, if your company only uses this field for information that does not fit anywhere else—like a customer’s preferred name—make sure everyone on the team is aware.

After you define your rules and standard practices, document your guidelines, and share that information with all users who have access to the CRM system.

Set up a maintenance schedule

After addressing duplicates, carefully selecting administators, and putting an entry protocol in place, you are now in good shape. But as with most things, CRM clean-up is not a one-time job.

You should perform regular maintenance, which includes a monthly review of flagged duplicates and quarterly checks for available CRM software updates. Set up a regular schedule for handling bad records or checking for missing data. Consider creating automated reminders or task assignments to prevent anything from falling through the cracks.

You should also implement a process for inventorying old, aging, and unengaged records in your CRM system. Use the CRM reporting functionality to view a report of your oldest records. Consider displaying this report on responsible team members’ dashboards or home screens, so that they remember to manage those records according to your company policy.

Keeping CRM data clean is everyone’s responsibility. The benefits of maintaining solid CRM data include gaining a better understanding of your customers as well as the ability to communicate effectively with them.

Rackspace is a full-service Salesforce Gold Consulting Partner with extensive experience helping businesses like yours succeed with technology solutions. We can help you create a CRM data maintenance strategy. We can also help to organize your data and create a process to maintain it. Contact us today to learn more.

Learn more about Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

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Jordan Friedman

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