CRM systems cover the entire lifecycle of a customer. Therefore, there is a high likelihood that customer information need to be updated over time. For example, there are changes at around 50.000 commercial registered companies every month in Germany [i]. Accordingly, regular customer data maintenance in B2B is essential and critical to success.
Why is it so essential?
Data quality acts as an “internal driver of acceptance”
A CRM system is only then accepted by sales and successful, if it does not collect and provide incomplete, wrong, redundant or outdated customer Information.
As long as data quality is low, there are no advantages for sales to use the CRM system. Low quality of data even has a negative impact on sales performance, because it increases the risk of approaching customers wrongly. This might lead to customer churn, which has not only an adverse impact on the company, but also on the individual performance of each sales agent.
This in turn decreases acceptance and usage of the CRM system by sales people. Therefore, acceptance and user adoption are dependent on data maintenance.
Who is responsible for high quality of data?
Data update: sales and headquarter – hand in hand
As indicated earlier, every sales agent is responsible for data maintenance as he or she is in regular and direct contact with his or her customers. According to that, sales people are provided with exclusive and up-to-date information about their customers. Furthermore, the company is in charge of high quality customer data.
How can companies ensure that a CRM system contains high quality data?
A potential solution is to implement processes and methods, which automatically clean, validate and standardize customer data, including the following:
- Review / validation of customer data when they are entered into the CRM system
- Implementation of mandatory fields to prevent missing data
- Identification and elimination of duplicates
- Regular data updates by external data supplier
Additionally, the company as well as the sales team should use further possibilities for data maintenance – mainly driven by digitization. These could include social networks such as Xing or LinkedIn, which allow to quickly find and validate customer information.
What does that mean for implementing and managing a CRM System?
One of the most important measures to ensure the efficient implementation of a CRM system is that the sales organisation pays a lot of attention to the CRM system in advance – in order to understand how and why the instrument is used. This also includes to closely look at all touch points of sales.
This means that in cooperation with CRM developers and integrators the right course for a high quality of data can be enabled. It begins with providing the required CRM infrastructure, including mandatory data input fields. Also, companies should have the opportunity to integrate external data sources to minimize manual efforts. In practice this might be executed by a mobile application, which scans business Cards.
These measures ensure that data quality can considered to be only a low barrier with regard to acceptance and usage of a CRM system.
by Daniel Meidl & Nikolaus Bremerich
<sup>1</sup>Winkelmann, P. (2012). Vertriebskonzeption und Vertriebssteuerung: Die Instrumente des integrierten Kundenmanagements – CRM, München, S. 395.