The 5 Principles of a Clean CRM

Jake Lans

To unlock the power of your professional network, you need a clean, well-maintained CRM. Here are the five principles you should strive for.

In the previous installment of our series on customer relationship management (CRM), we explored how CRM maintenance is critical to handling customer data responsibly, optimizing resource usage, and getting the most out of your client relationships. But we might’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Before you embark on CRM maintenance you must first establish a clean CRM — but what do we mean by that?

Having a clean CRM means that the people in your business who need access to customer data can find accurate, relevant information quickly and efficiently. In a contacts database, for example, a clean CRM means that all contacts on file are relevant to your goals, each entry is complete, and all changes made to contact information are well-documented. Most B2B companies know the value of clean customer data — but how do you make it happen?  

5 Principles to Keep in Mind for a Clean CRM

Many different departments including sales, marketing, and customer service rely on CRMs, but regardless of which departments have access, these five maintenance strategies are key to a clean CRM. 

1. Define Your KPIs Upfront

Many businesses only think to apply KPIs to their CRM strategy after the fact — but they often realize, all too late, that they are missing key data points. If you figure out the measures of success for your business and define your KPIs upfront, you can streamline CRM maintenance by prioritizing the collection of data that matters most. 

This also makes it easier to quantify success in the long run and optimize data collection and organization in the short term. For instance, if physical addresses are important to your business, you don’t want to end up missing them because your CRM strategy isn’t designed with your top KPIs in mind.

2. Apply Frequent Data Maintenance

As mentioned in the first article of this series, data maintenance is integral to a clean CRM. According to IBM’s estimates, poor quality data costs businesses around $3.1 trillion per year, and that’s just in the United States alone. Regular data maintenance ensures all your contact data is useful and relevant, boosts your conversion rates, and ensures compliance. No matter how much data you have or what you use it for, you should maintain your data at least once quarterly — more frequently if necessary.

When conducting data maintenance, ask yourself if your data is:

  • Accurate — Is any information outdated or incorrect?
  • Valid — Is any information invalid?
  • Clean — Do you have duplicates of any contacts? Are any of your contacts no longer useful to you?
  • Complete — Are you missing any information?
  • Uniform — Are there any inconsistencies in formatting between data entries? Are there any new types of data that you need to provide guidelines for?

3. Standardize Data Entry and Reporting Procedures

Customer data often winds up missing or poorly-reported because of inconsistent formatting. If you have multiple people working on a CRM and they each practice subtly different formatting — “US” vs. “U.S.” vs. “United States” — it can be difficult to pull the right data on your clients. Inconsistent formatting also increases the likelihood of duplicate records.

To prevent this, create standard practices around data entry and document these guidelines for everyone with access to the CRM system. Make sure that all addresses, names, and information that can be written in multiple ways are formatted in the exact same way. Remember, your data is only useful if it’s consistent. 

4. Implement a Collaborative CRM Strategy

CRM systems drive business value because they provide a way for different teams to access the same information and work more efficiently together. This is why it’s best to develop a collaborative strategy to ensure clean handoffs and seamless data sharing. Make sure everyone working on your CRM agrees on the standards for data entry, guidelines for data organization and maintenance, and finally, who has access. 

5. Limit Administrative Access 

When it comes to executing a clean and collaborative CRM, less is more. Not everyone needs administrative access to your CRM;  if you have too many cooks in the kitchen, data management can become very messy. At best, you might end up with duplicate records that will clog up your database, and at worst, a new team member might inadvertently delete an important contact. Keeping the circle small dramatically reduces your risk of data loss and limits human error — it also promotes a more efficient way to work.

There are no hard and fast rules for limiting the number of administrative users — it’ll look different for every business depending on need and size. We recommend limiting full admin access to six team members. For smaller B2Bs, we recommend restricting access to one or two trusted people who agree on the overall management of your CRM.

Make Your CRM Work For You

Today’s companies are growing faster than ever, and with new opportunities come large volumes of customer data. Managing multiple touchpoints, building strong client relationships, and pursuing new leads can be challenging — even with CRM software. The best way to stay ahead of the curve and support your flourishing business is to keep a clean CRM. Follow these five principles of a clean CRM and maximize the value of the data you’ve worked so hard to gather.

Jake Lans

Digital Marketing Manager

Cut his teeth as a literary scout. Thunderfoot growth team since 2019. Spends his free time perfecting his slapshot and reading Dean Young.

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