How to improve data quality in your CRM system

How sure are you that the data held in your CRM system is reliable? Is the process of segmenting data simple? Is it possible to produce precise reports without the need for manual intervention?

You are not standing alone, despite putting a new CRM system in place, there are many businesses that are facing these issues.

Everyone has had to endure the adage, “if you put poor data into CRM, your get poor data out” – but it can’t be denied.

If you have bought the best CRM solution out there but haven’t got the buy-in from the rest of the team, you won’t see the results that you were expecting.

In order to see a return, it must be fully embraced and utilised correctly.

Reasons CRM implementations fail

To correctly identify a solution, the problem must be carefully considered.

The chances are, you have – or will be investing a large sum of money into a CRM system, so why might you not see the results that were expected?

1. CRM is only perceived as technology

More often than not, CRM is often seen as an IT project, when in reality CRM (customer relationship management) should be perceived as a business strategy; the software is merely a tool to facilitate it.

>See also: CRM is dead: the shifting sands of customer engagement

CRM is a shift within a business to improve customer relationships with a view to improving client retention. Therefore, a cultural change should be aligned with the rollout of the new solution.

2. The new system just morphs into the old system

Often, moving to a new system leads to a change in working practices.

However, many businesses choose to avoid making big changes in order to aid user adoption.

This is a dangerous decision; by manipulating working practices so that they emulate the ones used with the previous system, you will encounter the same challenges.

A new system is an opportunity to evaluate current ways of working and put in place new, more efficient processes.

3. Poor quality data was imported

Unless you are just starting out, when rolling out a new system you need to import across your existing data.

All too often businesses export the data straight from the old system and import it into the new one, without carrying out a ‘data cleanse’.

>See also: 3 ways CRM can help retailers win at Christmas

Bringing across ‘dirty data’ will present challenges -remember that adage! Before importing old data into a new system, a thorough cleanse should be conducted ensuring only solid, reliable data enters the new system.

4. Users have not adopted the new CRM

If your employees are not using the new system as you intended or expected, you will reap no value.

It’s imperative to provide users with proper training so they understand how and why the system should be used and the processes they need to follow to ensure its benefits are experienced.

The solution: how to create and instil CRM culture

Now that the article has explored the reasons that CRM projects fail, it becomes clear that culture is fundamental to success.

In order to deliver a better customer experience, a customer-centric culture is needed – but how is it achieved.

The answer to the million dollar question:

Goals must be communicated

So you understand the value of being a customer-centric business and you know what this will help you to achieve. But, unless you communicate the vision no-one else will realise the value and your efforts, time and money will be wasted.

Get buy-in

In order to get everyone on board and embracing this new culture, it might not be enough to simply explain the benefits for the business.

You’ll need to explain how this translates into value to your employees and their day-to-day activities – consider what is important to them.

Don’t exclude anyone

When it comes to the CRM solution that you implement, it is important to consult the people that will be using it.

Ultimately, they will be the ones that are able to tell you what works and what doesn’t in your existing system.

>See also: Why BPM is the essential link between the IoT and CRM in the digital age

Helping you to shape a solution that enables them to be more effective, whilst achieving the broader business objectives. What’s more, by involving them in the process they will have an invested interest in the project.

Appoint champions

CRM champions will help you to share information, leading to increased engagement, because they have closer relationships with other users.

When selecting champions, it is good practice to have representation from each department as they will be able to provide valuable feedback and aid their colleagues.


Once you go live with a new solution, the hard work doesn’t end.

To keep everyone engaged, you need to consistently reinforce your new culture – managers need to lead by example and KPIs should reflect goals.

You may consider introducing incentives; this will stimulate competition and celebrate accomplishments – helping to spread the word.

Setting standards: Steps to data quality enlightenment

Data quality can be a challenge for most businesses, even those that have created a strong CRM culture, because;
a) There is a lot of data to contend with
b) It is constantly growing
c) It degrades quickly

However, it is vital to continue to strive for data quality because without reliable data; your decisions will be misinformed and your business reputation can be compromised.

>See also: How to make big data work for SMEs

Steps to help you achieve nirvana, or get close to it:

Define what data is important to your business

Study the data that you have already and decide what additional data would be of use to you in order understand and anticipate your customers’ needs more effectively.

Identify how is best to record and report on it

Once you have identified what further information you want to gather, you need to find the best means of recording it.

Adding additional fields here and there is an easy task, but before you know it your screens can become cluttered and difficult to navigate, so it is best to have a clear strategy on how best to store the information you need so it is accessible to all, simple to find and easy to report on.

Educate others

Communication is vital when it comes to getting others to see the value of accurate record keeping.

Once they can see the value to their role and activities as well as the business, they are more likely to follow requests and new processes.

Start collecting it

Once you (and other users) know what data is important, you need to start collecting it.

For existing customers and prospects this will need to be done retrospectively and could be done as part of a data cleanse exercise.

For any new contacts, you need to ensure the information you need is recorded from the off.

Implement data quality processes

Ultimately the users of your CRM system are human – therefore, there it’s likely that human error will be encountered; whether that is forgetting to record information or entering it in the wrong format or field.

Therefore, you need to introduce measures to make it easy for them to record the information you need and amend any mistakes.

You should start with;

Mandatory fields – by making important fields mandatory users will be unable to progress to the next activity without populating the required information. This is a great way of jogging the memory.

>See also: How geospatial data can add an extra dimension to enterprise insight

Picklists – picklists remove the need for manual data entry and therefore reduce mistakes. It also makes segmenting and reporting on your data simpler.

Regular data cleansing – data degrades quickly, therefore, no matter how good you are at entering data, it will need to be reviewed and cleansed on a regular basis. Depending on the volumes of data you hold you might want to outsource this to specialists.

Dedupe routine – duplicate records can affect customer experience and the accuracy of your reports and forecasts, so it is important to introduce preventative measures.

Many CRM systems can be configured to look for matches in the database before a new contact or account is added.

In addition to this, it is also wise to run a dedupe exercise on a regular basis to catch any that fall through the net.


Sourced by Jade Winters, marketing manager at DMC Software

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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