How to Clean Your CRM Data — And Keep It That Way

By RackBlogger -

Many people think a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is just for the sales team, but your CRM actually contains information about the entire customer lifecycle that is useful to all departments. And when your CRM is integrated with other platforms, like your marketing automation software, that creates even more valuable ways to use data across teams.

When the data stored in your CRM is disorganized, contains duplicates, or is incomplete, everyone loses. The teams trying to use this data — such as sales, marketing, or customer service — will be frustrated and may lose opportunities to close deals, retain customers, and deliver excellent service. Ultimately, your bottom line may suffer from a disorganized CRM in the form of missed customer conversions, company reputation, and opportunities for revenue.

So, how do you keep your CRM data clean as a whistle? Start by undertaking a few practices to get your CRM organized and pristine — and once your data is clean, implement processes for keeping it that way. As a Platinum Salesforce consulting partner, RelationEdge has helped thousands of businesses implement, use, and maintain their CRM systems, and we’re experts in CRM data management. Read on for some of our best strategies when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your CRM data for the long haul.

Delete or Merge Duplicate Records

The first step to cleaning up your CRM database is deleting duplicates. Records get duplicated for many reasons: multiple team members enter the same data on different dates, a data import doesn’t account for existing records, or a customer submits 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 is daunting and unrealistic. 

Here are some tactics to consider:

  • Run a duplicate check app. Some programs, including Salesforce, have free apps that check for duplicates. 
  • Use a case merge app like Case Merge Premium, which is a program that goes one step further by not just looking for duplicates but automatically merging them en masse. 
  • Going forward, block duplicates from the start. Once you’ve cleaned 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 enter one. 

Limit the Number of Administrative Users

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

Keeping the number of admins under control helps you maintain your processes and could keep an inexperienced team member from accidentally deactivating an important duplicate checker. 

Create Standard Practices Around Data Entry

Another way data becomes problematic is when vital information is missing or inconsistently recorded. By creating standard processes for CRM record entry, you can keep your software a lot more streamlined moving forward. And the more detailed the records, the quicker your duplicate checker will detect a case of 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.” could create an undetected duplicate record.
  • Notes: How should users work with the notes field? For example, if your company will only use this field for certain information that doesn’t fit into any other field, like a customer’s preferred name, make sure everyone on the team knows that.

Once you’ve defined what your rules and standard practices will be, be sure to document your guidelines and share that information with all users who will have access to the CRM system.

Set Up a Maintenance Schedule

With duplicates addressed, admins carefully selected, and an entry protocol in place, you’re now in good shape. But as with most things, CRM clean-up is not a “set it and forget it” job. 

Maintenance includes everything from a monthly review of flagged duplicates to quarterly checks for available CRM software updates. Set up a regular schedule for cleaning up bad records or checking for missing data, and consider setting up automated reminders or task assignments so that nothing falls through the cracks. 

It’s also worth mentioning that you should set up a process to inventory old, aging, and unengaged records in your CRM system. Use CRM reporting functionality to pull a report of your oldest records and consider displaying that 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, and the benefits of maintaining solid CRM data include a better understanding of your customers and an ability to effectively communicate with them. 

If you need help getting started with a CRM data maintenance strategy, RelationEdge is a full-service Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner with extensive experience helping businesses like yours succeed with technology solutions. We can help you clean up your data and create a process to keep it that way going forward. Contact us today to learn more