• December 1, 2017
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Let’s Resolve to Do Better with Our Data

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I recently got an email from one of our CRM vendors offering me a 60-day free trial of its data-cleansing software. In what the company called an “end of the year nudge,” it offered to help me clean up my Salesforce.com records to eliminate duplicates, mistakes, and other little buggers that could corrupt my daily routine. 

The email suggested that I make this my New Year’s resolution instead of trying to lose weight, wake up an hour earlier, or something else that takes too much effort. Clean data might not be as brag-worthy as hitting the gym more often or giving up one of my many long-held vices, but the email promised that by cleaning up my sales database I could be assured that nothing would rob me of a strong finish to 2017.

Sounds good so far, right? But here’s the problem: The email came addressed not to me directly but to a former member of CRM magazine’s editorial team who hasn’t been on staff since June 2013. The email also failed to take into account that as editors, we typically don’t have to worry about quotas or end-of-the-year sales goals. 

It seems to me that the company making the pitch hasn’t been following its own advice. Not only is its contact list grossly (four and a half years) out of date, but the database is not segmented properly to reflect the roles and titles of the people contained therein. The vendor’s marketing folks might want to take a look at their own New Year’s resolutions before telling me what mine should be.

But all kidding aside, the company’s suggestion needs to be taken seriously. I suspect that the majority of company databases are just as much in need of a good cleansing. Doing it now will set you on the right course as we start 2018.

We all know that customer data deteriorates rapidly; in three years or less, most information is no longer valid. By failing to keep customer and prospect records up to date, you could be throwing money away by attempting to reach people who will never see your pitch. The best, most carefully crafted email could easily wind up bounced into oblivion by a spam filter or, even worse, in the trash folder of someone who was never intended to receive it.

A clean and up-to-date database is a crucial element in every good marketing and sales campaign. Well-maintained customer information is the linchpin for personalization, as this month’s feature “Making It Personal for Every Customer,” by Assistant Editor Sam Del Rowe, points out. “Personalization efforts are only as good as the data used to craft the right customer experience,” the article maintains.

That also means knowing how customers prefer to be contacted. The right data could mean the difference between reaching customers on the channels they prefer and missing the mark on channels they never use.

Accurate and up-to-date information is just as important to good customer service. After all, “the ability to have a unified view of customer data and interaction history is critical,” notes Associate Editor Oren Smilansky in this month’s cover story, “WebRTC + CRM = Better Customer Support.” Armed with the right information, agents can better handle each customer’s unique situations and concerns. 

But it’s also important to note that accurate and current data is only valuable if company employees, automated systems, and business partners can access it at the right time. That requires a tight integration between all front- and back-office data warehouses and other systems of record. 

At the end of the day—or in this case, the end of the year—proper data management is but one small part of a much larger endeavor that starts with a firm commitment to making data a priority. No data cleansing service provider can bring about that kind of cultural change for you, so you might want to consider making it your very own New Year’s resolution.

Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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