CRM Systems: How to Clean Your Database And Why

Gabriel Nwatarali

Sep 12 2019

Your CRM (customer relationship management) application houses important customer data. Personal information about leads and existing customers are saved within your CRM database. Sales and marketing teams rely on CRM data to drive conversions or close deals and ensure client satisfaction. However, CRM systems can do more damage than good when the database is messy. This may occur for a number of reasons such as human error and poor system setup. A database that’s lacking information integrity increases company expenditures while a clean CRM enhances ROI. Today we’ll be discussing the importance of data cleansing and how to clean your database by sharing some customer data management best practices.

Limiting Bad Data in Your CRM Database

Typically businesses are always receiving consumer information such as contact info, interaction data, sales insights, and others from various sources via CRM. The efficiency of your CRM system is integral for limiting bad data, which causes clutter. Organized information offers a better understanding and interpretation of customer data for enterprises.

Ideally, you want a flexible CRM system that allows you to customize certain functions. For instance, a CRM system like HubSpot makes it easy to keep your information organized via customization. You can customize particular functions to organize your CRM data in a way that best fits sales and marketing processes. So how does bad data get into CRM?

Primarily, human error and inefficient systems are factors that affect information integrity. Sometimes it’s because staff inaccurately enters data or is too lazy to input all necessary contact information. While other times it’s due to the lack of standardization within an organization. Standardizing data input by requiring the use of specific kinds of content and format will keep information consistent throughout your organization.

For example, Pipedrive is a CRM system that lets you mark specific fields as mandatory in your organization’s sales process. The feature is called “Important Fields” and will prompt your salespeople or staff to include data in those fields. In general, there are three forms of bad data. These are duplicates, missing information, and out-of-date or obsolete data.

How to Clean Your Database

Knowing how to clean your database will improve workflow, enabling you to reach prospects and meet client needs more efficiently. Also, an efficient CRM system naturally improves your company’s earnings via increased productivity. Here are some customer data management best practices you can use to clean up data.

1. Import Essential Data Only

Import prospects into your CRM with caution. Quite often, your contact list will have information that isn’t important to the sales or marketing process. That irrelevant data may be costing you money depending on your CRM vendor. So never import useless information. Instead, focus on relevant data that will be utilized to reach prospects. This alone ensures CRM clean up with minimal effort.

2. Optimize Customer Data Input Field Templates

As previously noted, keeping your CRM clean is easier when you’re organized. Set the standard by customizing input fields, ensuring that only the information you use is entered or collected. This will streamline data entry, which reduces human error by a lot.

Some CRM systems like Freshsales can auto-populate prospect data using publicly available information. Things like their phone number, website, social media profiles, etc. can be auto-populated using their email address as a starting point.

3. Validate Data

Automated spambots and even some people may enter false data on your website or other assets. This is often done in an attempt to access certain information or offers. Not to mention that you still have to deal with bad data caused by human error.

Spam is pretty rampant online so companies require systems that can properly filter spam from real business inquiries or entries. In other words, you should filter your CRM data at the point of collection. Bogus data clutters your CRM and disrupts sales, including marketing efficiency.

Fortunately, many CRM systems like the aforementioned companies can automatically validate email addresses upon entry. Plus it’s possible to set validation for critical input fields (e.g. phone numbers and email) with most CRM vendors. Now that’s how to clean your database.

4. Check For Duplicates

This can be done routinely or automatically depending on your CRM. Duplicate prospect data is damaging to your bottom line. That’s because it affects your marketing campaigns and sales process. Also, duplication causes confusion and can lead to consumer irritation. You could be reaching out to prospects twice with the same email copy. Multiple salespeople may work on closing the same customers.

Furthermore, automation is hindered by duplicate information. For example, a prospect’s first name may be spelled differently in multiple accounts or profiles. Causing them to receive several emails when automation is fired up but with misspelled names. Not good.

Some CRM systems offer automatic deduplication. This eliminates entries that have the same or strongly similar information. Auto deduplication is especially important for large enterprises that handle huge volumes of data. Though deduplication is possible to implement through third-party application integration, which most CRMs support.

5. Create a Plan For CRM Database Maintenance

Make it a tradition to clean up data in CRM by creating a plan. This makes the whole process of tidying up much easier or less of a “drag”. Schedule it on a calendar so you and your team will receive reminders accordingly.

6. Reward Success

Find a way to reward your team for maintaining data integrity. Start by communicating the importance of cleaning the CRM to get everyone on board. Stress the fact that repetitions are reduced with CRM clean up. Mainly, there will be less sorting and making corrections with a clean database, which saves time. Also, inform staffs of any implemented change that accelerates or makes data entry more efficient. Then reward the people that are keeping clean account/profile records.

7. Remove Unresponsive Contacts

Occasionally removing unresponsive leads is part of how to clean your database. Specifically, people that have unsubscribed or not been responsive for a certain time period (e.g. six months) should be removed from CRM. In either situation, these are consumers that don’t want to hear from you.

However, removing prospects that have unsubscribed is only recommended if your CRM system is set to automatically filter past or previously added contacts. Otherwise, it’s better to leave the unsubscribed in your CRM so you can avoid reaching out to those folks.

Now You Know How to Clean Your Database

A clean CRM has many business advantages. Cleaning your database improves the efficiency of your marketing and sales team, which increases overall productivity and profits. Your team will be confident about leads and their current standings. Also, you’ll be able to effectively track prospect/customer interactions, avoid time-wasting activities, and improve responsiveness with clean CRM data.

CRM information decays at a rate of at least 30 percent per year. That works out to about 2 to 3 percent each month, hence, the importance of data cleansing. So you should clean your CRM monthly or annually depending on information volume. Now you know how to clean your database. Have fun!

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