Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How useful is your CRM data?

According to an article from at least 25% of most companies data is probably inaccurate and 50% of companies are not satisfied with their current CRM programmes for just this reason - lack of data integrity.

Ensuring that the data in your CRM is accurate is important for many reasons - most importantly because having inaccurate data can undermine your sales & marketing activities and can also be a major cause of frustration for your staff and your customers.

In particular having unreliable data in your CRM can cause staff to lose confidence in the product and become a contributor to the problem by not taking the effort to enter/update new data.

Ways to ensure data accuracy in ACT!

Before you are able to overcome data integrity issues it is important to identify the source (or sources) of the problem. For example, are staff too busy to update contact records? Is there enough fields to store all the data you want to collect? Once you have done this you can come up with a solution to improve data integrity and can train your staff accordingly.

Below is a few ways data inaccuracy can be overcome in ACT!

1. Establishing good data entry habits
  • Search to see if a contact exists in your database before creating it by performing a lookup of the contacts name, company and/or email. Be sure to try different search criteria just in case the existing data is not correct or spelled differently.
  • Use identifiers when bulk importing new data. For example create a column in your CSV file called "source" and enter the data source in each row, then map this column to an empty field in ACT! such as "User 1". Once the data is imported you will be able to re-create the imported list in ACT! and can compare it to existing data.
  • Spend 1 minute after each activity entering relevant information into ACT! and cleaning up records with inaccurate data. Entering new data at the time you are presented with it is faster and easier than trying to remember it later on.

2. Utilize ACT!'s Tools
  • Make sure there is a place to store all the information you want to collect about your customers by creating the right fields and organizing them in your layout. For example, we use a custom tab to store all of the relevant information about our customer's IT environment.
  • Create compulsory fields to ensure that vital information is captured when a new contact is created. Make sure that the number of compulsory fields is manageable and that allowances are made for data that is unknown. At Xact we have compulsory fields for "Name", "ID/Status" and "City".
  • Format fields to make data entry easier. For example, set a default country in your country field, set phone number fields to display in the correct format and set important fields to write to ACT! history when changes/updates are made.

3. Regular check-ups
  • Run the duplicate checker from the Tools menu. Be sure to mix and match your criteria as ACT! will only match exact phrases. For example, Xact Software Ltd would NOT match to Xact Software Limited.
  • Use dynamic groups to identify missing or incorrect data. For example, we use groups to identify contacts with no email address and company names that contain Ltd rather than Limited. 
  • Backup your database. A recent backup of your database is useful just in case someone accidentally overrides or deletes a large portion of your data (or in case of damage, viruses, natural disasters etc.). Just remember to test your backups and store them in a different location (and preferably on a different media such as an external hard drive).

What data accuracy issues does your organisation face or has experienced in the past? What ways have you used ACT! to maintain data accuracy? Post your comments below!

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