Welcome to the first in our customer data management best practice mini-series: preparation is key!

Like many things in life, if you want to do something right the first time, then you must take as much time as you need to properly prepare. This is especially true when it comes to managing your customer data, particularly when you consider the wide variety of sources (such as your website, social media, and email marketing) that it can come from. 

But before we begin, you might be wondering: what is customer data management? Customer data management (or CDM) is the process of collating, organising, and maintaining the data that your business systems receive. The aim is to get a single view of each of your customers which can then be used to form the basis of your essential business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

In our experience, it’s vital to take the time to look closely at your data before introducing a CRM system. But, where do you start?

First things first, you need to identify all of the places that you currently hold data. For instance, you might have three databases that appear to contain the same information as one another, but the approach to entering that data has been different for each one. 

Next, you need to do a data audit: what data have you got, which is the cleanest and the best – that sort of thing. 

An audit will take a lot of work before you’re anywhere close to putting it into a CRM system, but the more cleaning you can do at the start, the better. Taking the time in the beginning, as painful as it may feel, will make “future you” very pleased when everything in your CRM is working like clockwork. They may just feel a little smug as they sip their tea, sit back in their seat and admire the flawless dashboards and reports presented before them.

If you have a finance or accounting system, then that is usually the best place to go as data in here is the most likely to be up-to-date and accurate. 

Then, match the ID/Reference number from your finance system with each relevant record in your other key databases (use conditional formatting tools to help you identify things such as duplicates and empty cells).

From our own experience (and pain), it also pays to adhere to these 3 top tips:

  • Save often
  • Save as a new file often
  • If using Excel, don’t copy data down into other cells when it is filtered

Finally, if you come across some old data that you’re unsure of its origin (like a dataset that was purchased by your predecessor, or a mystery database that you’ve never seen before) then seriously consider securely deleting it. Otherwise, you’re opening yourself up to a world of GDPR related pain (and nobody wants that).

That’s all for this first instalment in our customer data management best practice mini-series. If you can’t wait for the next one then you can always go ahead and download the full eBook, Manage your customer data like a pro for all of our top tips and advice on this subject.

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