CRM Data Cleaning

CRM Data Cleaning: Effect of Bad Data and How to fix this issue?

By Abhishek Sharma
7 minutes

Data can be useful for any business there is certainly no doubt about that. But things can go sideways quickly if this same data becomes uncontrolled and takes the shape of irrelevant yet ever-growing information. Understand this issue with an example, suppose you have a gigantic pile of contact information, but most of this data contains invalid email IDs, duplicate, and incomplete contact data. Another problem with having these data silos is you can’t use this raw and irrelevant data in any automated process like machine learning. The only way to save this shape is to perform CRM data cleaning (aka data cleansing) on a regular basis.

Now you must be wondering why CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software only and the answer lies in the application of this software. Most companies use CRM for managing customer data and therefore it acts as the storage unit of the entire system. A report suggests that almost 30% of company data becomes outdated after one year. Therefore, every business should learn the perfect way of cleansing their CRM software. In this article, we will share every detail that you need to know about data cleaning of CRM.

A CRM system can operate on the optimum level only if it is kept tidy and clean thoroughly.”

What is Data Cleaning?

In generic terms, data cleaning or data cleansing is the process of removing data that is mostly outdated, inaccurate, corrupted, and non-credible from the system. However, when it comes to CRM software the process became a bit more complicated because here we are specifically talking about the sales and marketing data of an organization.

what is data cleaning

For example, a sales team may encounter a lot of problems because the data cleaning process is not done in the way it should be. In order to grab more opportunities and leads, reps need to have access to up-to-date and credible data all the time. A slightest mistake in the cleansing process can lead to catastrophic failure in the entire sales process and even collapse the system as a whole.

There are other effects as well like inefficient and longer sales cycle, sales funnels will not be performing well too. The outdated information could lead you to unworthy prospects, which means, you’ll be spending time on nurturing leads that never meant to be customers and miss on the real opportunities. All these drawbacks can be avoided by simply adapting three steps i.e. (i) identification of corrupt/outdated data (ii) Removal of unnecessary information (iii) Update the current data to the latest.

“Big data is at the foundation of all of the megatrends that are happening today, from social to mobile to the cloud to gaming.” This quote is more than enough to tell you the importance of data and technologies related to it like machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things).

What is bad CRM Data and how to identify it?

As we mentioned earlier almost 30% of CRM went irrelevant or outdated almost after a year. But what bad CRM data looks like and how can you identify it. In this section, we are going to unravel this. If this data piled on for a long period of time then it could start the domino effect and eventually start affecting the other business decisions as well like marketing campaigns, sales strategy, etc.

bad crm data

Here we are going to enlist different types of bad data that can ruin your CRM system to a great extent. There are some usual activities as well that can lead to bad CRM data if not performed in the right way, let’s have a look at them one by one.

1.Outdated Data

With every second passed, data is becoming more and more outdated. For example, people usually change their phone number, email address, physical address, job roles very frequently. So you have to keep in mind that data in your CRM should be as fresh as it possibly can be. Here are some statistics that can back the statement we just made.

Outdated data
  • Email Address: 40% of people change their email address at least once after every two years. It means if you fail to update this information then you are highly likely to lose a nurtured customer.
  • Physical Address: However this rate is lower but still 20% of people change their physical address every year.
  • Phone Numbers: Phones are a very important way of communication between a customer and company, therefore, it becomes crucial to keep this piece of information up-to-date. This job becomes more difficult because 18% of people change their phone numbers every year.

2. Inconsistent Data Format

If your company has not adopted any SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for data entry of different figures such as email addresses, phone numbers, name, etc then there can be issues in format. The reason behind this is every person has their own way of inputting data, which could lead to inconsistent data format. But the good thing is that you can fix this issue easily by introducing automated tools like Unique ID Generator in your CRM. This will create consistent and uniform unique IDs for long lists of CRM data.

3. Error in spelling or typos

This mistake is committed by the customers as well as company employees. For example, if a customer visits your website and in the online form he fills out the wrong information. It will automatically save to the database, regardless of its correctness. The same scenario is plausible when an employee performs typos, which is pretty common in manual data entry.

4. Duplicate Data Points

This mostly happens when migrating data from one CRM database to another or merging two different lists. This could create confusion within the sales and marketing departments.

Essential Steps to Perform CRM Data Cleansing

Now you know what causes mistakes and errors in your CRM database, it’s time to learn how we can fix them. Based on the causes and different situations there are different types of CRM data cleaning processes.

1. Fix Formatting Issues

Format issues could be information in wrong fields, names with letters that are not capitalized, abbreviations of states, countries, counties, etc are not used properly. Apart from that use of a standard format for all manual data entry processes should become mandatory. This will allow the sales and marketing representatives to find the appropriate information in no time.

2. Use Standard and Consistent Terminologies

You also need to make sure that most of the fields use a standard format and terminologies. For example, if you are describing a position as “Sales Person” then you do not use any other like a salesman or sales representative whatsoever. If you do so then it can create confusion and your CRM will seem messy. This is one of the most common mistakes companies make. In order to get an idea you can look at the industry standards and according to them you can assign consistent nomenclature to your CRM software.

3. Get rid of recurring fields

This happens when merging two or more records. In this, there are chances that more than one field for the same purpose exists in the new record. Therefore, you should audit the newly created record after merging them and also have a keen eye for values that are not placed on the right fields.

4. Delete Unnecessary and Irrelevant information

If you haven’t performed CRM Data cleaning for years then you might end up with information in your database that has no meaning to you whatsoever. If that’s the case with you as well then you should not be afraid of deleting such records. This bad data is only tampering with the quality of the CRM database. For longer, you keep this information you are jeopardizing the integrity of your database management system.

5. Limit the number of people who enters the data

This is the best thing you can ever do in order to minimize clerical flaws and other kinds of data entry mistakes. If the number of hands involved in database management is limited and those who are involved know their work, everything will be right. You can do this by limiting the privileges to the team members and this makes sense because everyone should not have administrative authority over the database. You can also hide sensitive and editable fields from those users who don’t require access to them.

The Final Words

Now, you know how bad data can affect the operation of your company it is important to fix them as soon as possible. CRM Data cleaning is the best way to do so. After cleansing the database, you also have to make sure to maintains its optimum form as long as possible. For this, you can set some standardized procedures 

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