If you make it a priority to collect detailed and accurate data, and do it consistently over time, you will continue to reap the benefits of CRM for as long as your business is running. You will be able to rely on your CRM’s database for any and all business decisions, because it will provide you with actionable insight derived from accurate data for every account, lead, and contact, and for every customer engagement that has taken place.
If you don’t ensure this level of data integrity, you’ll end up with paying for it—literally. Bad data—whether it be missing data, incorrect data, or duplicate data—incurs real costs, and these costs continue to increase over time.
What is Data Integrity?
Data integrity is the accurate and consistent entry of data throughout its lifecycle. You have no use for inaccurate or otherwise compromised data – and that isn’t even scratching the surface of the issues presented by the loss of sensitive data. This is why many security solutions focus so stringently on maintaining the integrity of data. But, how can data become compromised or altered?
Every time data is duplicated or moved, there’s the potential for alteration or loss. Each time you run a scheduled update, for instance, data has the chance to be altered. By implementing error checks and validating procedures, you can help ensure data integrity is maintained during transfers or duplications when the alteration wasn’t the intention.
Data integrity can also be compromised during its collection. If your sales reps have poor communication or data entry skills, this can cause incorrect information entry. Without safeguards against errors, your CRM is worth nothing.
Why is Data Integrity Important?
Maintaining the integrity of your customer data is crucial for many reasons, such as:
- Recoverability – in the event of system collapse, etc.
- Searchability – for everyday operations, etc.
- Traceability – to follow the trail from obtaining the data along the customer journey
- Connectivity – to view correlations, etc.
Protecting your data’s validity increases your CRM’s stability and improves reusability. Your customer and client data is increasingly and constantly driving decisions you make in your organization. But before it’s useable, it undergoes several changes from raw data to practical formats you can use to help identify various relationships, thereby providing the information you need to make wise business decisions.
How Can Data Become Compromised?
The integrity of your data has several touchpoints at which it can become compromised, such as when the original rep is inputting data or when a follow-up call is made. For instance, if the original rep inputs something incorrectly, a follow-up call with bad information can lead to bad customer experiences. Implementing stringent data practices is an essential aspect of effective security. Your data can become compromised by:
- Human data entry error – whether maliciously or unintentionally
- Transference – unintended changes can occur when transferring from device to device, for instance
- Cyber threats – viruses, hacking, or bugs
- Hardware – system crashes
- Physical – device compromise
Data security only protects from some of the above, making a strong case for backup disks or other such duplication measures. Other protection methods include validation measures to prevent incorrect data entry, data error detection during transfers, encryption, and controlled access to various portions of data.
The Relationship Between Data Integrity and Customer Relationship Management
Companies in the United States spend exorbitant amounts of money training their reps. According to a survey by Training Magazine, companies spent over $90 billion on training in 2017. This was 32% more than the same companies spent just a year prior. Some of the allotted training budgets were spent on such aspects as training staff salaries, travel expenses, training facilities, and necessary equipment.
While the survey doesn’t mention it specifically, it’s dubious that even a portion of these training dollars were spent on education and motivation in regards to the regular accurate input of data into the business’ CRM.
According to ambition.com, there are at least four ways you can optimize your customer relationship management, such as:
- Identifying pain points
- Asking reps what they struggle with
- Considering CRM integration options
- Switching CRMs if you need to
It seems the real issue could be that companies aren’t devoting enough time or resources to fostering a company culture that respects and rewards quality data input – and it shows. One way that companies are working on boosting their data integrity is by gamifying the system. Providing incentives for correct data entry can not only clean up your customer data, but it can also boost office morale. And the better the incentives, the harder your reps are going to work to make sure their data is accurate.
But, regular use of a CRM isn’t the norm, and for many reasons. Some companies regard CRMs as representative of change and, like anything else, change is oftentimes approached hesitantly. From the perspective of a sales rep, data entry may seem more like an administrative task – something that someone else does, or something non-essential.
Also, there’s the demographic component. CRMs are perfect for tracking demographics and relationships, especially for marketing purposes. But, if your company’s current methods are mainly manual or not well-structured, your senior reps may not want to change what they feel isn’t broken. Illustrating the benefits of CRM systems and high levels of data integrity usually requires changing the minds of your senior-level reps and the overall behaviors within your company.
Why Your CRM is Worth Nothing Without Integrity
So, how do you institute this type of change and foster an understanding that strong data integrity equates to a strong company? Mandating routine data entry is a great start. Your reps have regular meetings in which they provide updates on quota progress, bring challenges to management, or give ideas regarding ways to go after new opportunities. If you implement public recognition for reps who are entering their data in the CRM, as well as for those who are not, you’ll likely see improvement in overall data entry behaviors.
At the same time, you’ve heard the phrase, “Praise in public – problems in private.” Upper management may rebuff the idea of publicly shaming reps. It doesn’t mesh with a supportive office culture. But this also runs in opposition to the argument many managers make – and correctly – that regular data entry in the company CRM helps reps perform more effectively. For instance, when all details of every call to a client are noted in the CRM, the risk of alienating a client due to asking the same or similar questions about their account that they’ve been asked previously is eliminated. For reps who do work diligently, the mandating of something they’re already doing can feel intrusive.
A better way to approach improving data integrity is by way of streamlined reports or widgets within the CRM that can track use by employee. If this is implemented properly, sales managers can perform regular audits to discover the employees who are working on certain accounts and what they edited the last time they made contact.
Begin by asking your upper-level management which data points are most crucial and how they want those points used. This is typically done when the CRM is first implemented. You’ll then be able to tweak the CRM to your benefit.
Automation: The Key to Data Integrity
Take a second, if you will, to think about how bad data ends up in a CRM in the first place.
Sales reps are given the responsibility of entering pertinent data into their CRM after every conversation they have with a customer. They log calls, update fields, take notes, send emails, leave voicemails, etc.
The problem is: reps are also given the responsibility of meeting their quota.
When you consider the fact that only 32% of a typical sales rep’s time is spent on actually selling to customers, making sure that all data is accurately reported after each and every call becomes a real hassle. From the rep’s perspective, it actually becomes counterintuitive.
So it’s no surprise that according to Bluewolf’s The State of Salesforce 2017 report, 27% of reps admit to entering opportunity data into their CRM only to meet their reporting requirements. Add this to the fact that 79% of sales reps have to input their data into multiple systems, and you’re left with a high risk for human error—or just simple disregard—and poor data integrity that can cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars (or worse).
The absolute best way of avoiding this significant waste is through automation.
With DialSource’s Post-Call Automation, reps save about 5 minutes for every call, have more time to talk to customers, and avoid insanity to boot. This is because with a click of a button, reps can log a call, update custom fields, auto-convert leads, send personalized voicemails and emails, and essentially have an unlimited number of customizable workflows triggered as they immediately transition to the next call.
Knowledge is great, but only if you have the right information at the right time can your company really shine. Provide your team with the best tools, incentives, and intelligence, and you’ll reap the benefits in every aspect of your business.