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Who is in charge of that data point?

When setting up a CRM like Salesforce, we often talk about what data points or fields are required, in what context they will be used and who needs it. However, we rarely talk about data sanity, data hygiene and who is in charge of maintaining it over a long term.

When setting up a CRM like Salesforce or when making any changes, it is very important to discuss and come to an understanding who will ensure that the data entered is correct, up to date and verifiable.

Mistakes made by marketing

Marketing teams often come up with a laundry list of customer data they want to collect for better segmentation and targeted campaigns. However, they rarely have a solution to keep these data points updated or verify it.

These data points have a very low shelf life as customer tastes change and the more permanent details are not easily verifiable. Sometimes the campaign effectiveness is far too dependent on the accuracy of this data.

In such a scenario either the campaign expectations needs to be toned down or manual effort needs to be put in to verify the data of customers being targeted.

This should not be so much an issue in a few of scenarios that I can think of.

  1. Sectors such as fintech, where KYC is completed with government ID
  2. E-commerce sector where the correctness of data is important for the customers
  3. B2B, where the official data is easily verifiable in bulk

Mistakes made on the sales side

B2C sales have a very short lifecycle and almost all the data points are directly entered by the customer. B2B sales is a different beast though.

There you need to understand the landscape the customer operates in, which all of your competitors the customer engages with, what other related products do they use, what is the possible wallet share you have captured and so.

These are all very valid questions, but like with the marketing folks, keeping this data updated in a difficult exercise.

The data points are collected once in a few years or when a major RFP comes out and then it sits there and stagnates.

The problem with stagnant data is that it gives you a false sense of the customer and does not help you make a proper customer forecast or account plan. The reason I’m calling this data stagnant is because the situation stinks.

Suggestions offered to solve the problem include annual surveys which are a chore for any customer and incentives are never good enough. The other approach the truly works is providing a free consultation on cost saving after understanding assets in use. This approach however, is very expensive.

There are external agencies that provide such data, but how reliable have they been in your experience?

Mistakes made on the service side

The world of customer support is that of constant chaos. You can build a system to cater to every standard issue you have faced, but every day there is a new fire to put out and the systems have been made far too inflexible to cater to these emergencies.

Guided methods for logging complaints can be simple to understand and be used by agents with very little training. However, when edge cases crop up, the flows can bog you down with mandatory data points to be filled and no easy way to route it to relevant teams.

The problem then in the service side is focusing far too much on making a system noob-proof that it becomes inflexible. The data you needed to work now gets in your way.

Conclusion

Every time you want to add a data point in your CRM, Salesforce or not, ask the following questions

  1. Who needs this data?
  2. How accurate should this data be at any point in time?
  3. Who will keep this data updated?
  4. How will I incentivise this person to keep this data updated?
  5. What are the repercussions of incorrect data?
  6. What is the business impact of not having this data?
  7. What is the business impact of having wrong data?

This should help you truly gauge the need for this data.

Image credit: Sašo Goričar

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