Nurture and Protect
Your Sales Database - It's Your Biggest Asset!
A CRM Data Capture Procedure Checklist
By Perry Norgarb
one of the most common reasons cited for the high
failure rate of CRM systems - poor data quality
- is also one of the easiest to avoid.
Your CRM software is only as
good as the information it contains. As the old
programmers motto goes 'garbage in, garbage out'.
So how can you avoid incomplete,
incorrect, irrelevant or out-of-date and generally
unfit-for-use data from permeating your CRM software?
You need to gather your key CRM users, and together
thrash out a DATA CAPTURE PROCEDURE document, defining
the rules of use.
- Who has what rights to the system; who can Create,
Insert, Modify or Delete records, assuming your software
supports all these functions? Forward this information
to your system administrator to action.
- Decide on a procedure to check for any duplicates
before creating a record. Depending on what 'de-duping'
or 'data scrubbing' features your system has, this
might require some simple searches before starting
a new record.
- Do you allow abbreviations or acronyms? For example:
IBM, or I.B.M, or International Business Machines
Inc. or Incorporated and so on. A policy on ensuring
consistency of input will help to avoid duplications
- Are records going to be created in Upper and Lower
case and when are CAPS acceptable?
- By when do you expect records, notes and so on to
be created or updated? Same day, on return to the
- Check to see whether your Postal Services have
specific requirements. Ensure your data meets these
- Is the primary address of clients to be created
as a postal or a physical address?
- Make sure everyone checks spellings if they are
unsure and do not trust spellchecker! When in doubt,
ask the client - they'll respect that. Is it Clark
with an 'e'; Shawn, Sean or Shaun? One certain way
to get your mail binned is to spell someone's name
- Also confirm the kind of corporation e.g. LLC, Inc,
PTY Ltd. and so on.
- Make rules for creating new profiles or User Definable
Fields (UDF) (or whatever your specific CRM software
calls them.) Place a lot of emphasis on this. Every
time a new UDF is needed, it should first be approved.
Otherwise duplicates will permeate your database e.g.
Lead Source: Yellow Pages, YP, yelo pages.
- Ensure that email addresses are put in correctly.
Basic but common mistake!
- Set up procedures, if not supported by your software,
of how to create records from inbound emails.
- If applicable, are you going to use Mandatory/Forced
You might as well address the issue of Backups while
you are about it.
- Who is the responsible person for backing up your
databases/s? Who covers for them when they are absent
- How frequently are backups to be done? Diarise!
- How are backups done e.g. by the Grandfather, Father,
- Ensure backups are made on good quality CD's or
whatever format you are using. It's no good doing
a backup, then finding on attempting a Restore that
it doesn't work! It is also a good idea to copy backups
onto more than one data format.
- Where are the backups to be stored?
- Are the backups secure? This is important for both
security and practical reasons.
Once your Data Capture Procedure Document is finished,
get everyone to sign it off as READ! As standard practice,
ensure that document is handed to all new employees
at your company.
Refer back to this document for possible revision every
three months or so.
Try this: select a couple of records - both good and
bad - every week, to put on the overhead at staff meetings.
Make sure you don't unduly embarrass anybody but watch
this become the light-relief highlight of your meetings!
People learn best when having fun!
What if your database is in one unholy mess?
Has the rot set in so deeply that your database needs
a complete overhaul? Turn this seemingly insurmountable
task into an opportunity to you. This is an excellent
excuse to re-establish contact with your clients and
let them know you care. You can always put lapses down
to data crashes but tell them you have fixed the problem!
Importantly, help your staff understand what you need
from the data to facilitate more accurate marketing
and reporting and hence the success of your business
and their careers.
By creating a sense of pride and ownership in the company
database, you are nurturing the essential process of
buy-in, necessary for the success of your CRM initiative.
Don't compromise this critical tool by allowing your
CRM software to be infected by inferior data.