“OMG – what is that smell?” Nothing seems to bring a company to its knees like a terrible smell in the office refrigerator. Within minutes the company wide chat/email gets flooded with demands for people to take personal responsibility, denial of any wrongdoing, and a full-on investigation that makes the Spanish Inquisition seem tame. Threats of everything be emptied into the trash are tossed about, causing others to plead for a salad dressing pardon.
In all the chaos, one observer remains unscathed – the fridge. No one accuses the fridge of causing the smell. So why do people accuse their customer relationship management (CRM) system of having bad data? Just as a fridge is only intended to store food, a CRM is only intended to store data. The quality of the contents of either depends entirely on the people putting in those contents. So, the next time someone says, “Our CRM is broken, all the data stinks!” Consider taking a few steps you might take with the office fridge when it starts smelling.
Remove the Stinky Stuff
If you have anything that may have gone stale, your best bet could be to just get rid of it. Bad data can come from a lack of standardized processes for data entry, from general neglect, or from a data intern who should remove the line about being “detail-oriented,” from his resume. Regardless, having a bunch of bad mailing addresses or incorrect demographics is not good, and starting with a clean slate may be the best plan. Just like that chicken in the fridge that may be good, or may have salmonella, when in doubt you’re probably better playing it safe and starting fresh.
Institute Regular Cleaning
Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, regular cleaning is always a good idea for your fridge AND your CRM. How often you clean is always a balancing act between what provides the best quality content (checking every hour) and what people want to do (put it in and never check again). Likely something in between gives you the greatest chance for success, just make sure it becomes a habit.
Consider a CRM Upgrade
If your staff has gone from five to 50, you likely would upgrade your fridge at some point. Same goes for your CRM. If your customers base has significantly changed, your CRM may no longer fit your needs. At the same time, this should be a last recourse. Too often when people have data issues they are quick to point to the database as opposed to process issues that are more likely the cause. Take my word for it – just because it stinks, doesn’t mean the fridge is broken.