Are Duplicate Records in Your CRM Software Jeopardizing Your Relationships?

Companies invest in CRM software solutions, such as Sage CRM, to improve their management of customer data and to boost their relationships. While the data itself certainly does nothing to nurture customer relationships, having access to it unlocks the door to many key opportunities with your customers. Therefore, keeping accurate records is essential to customer relationship management. If you don’t have accurate records, you don’t have the information you need to continually meet your customers’ needs and expectations.

Unfortunately, maintaining clean records within your CRM software can be challenging. Duplicate records occur all the time, whether through manual entry or glitches in the system. These records then lead to confusion among sales representatives and – ultimately – your customers. If the data stored within your CRM software is not consistent, you cannot expect to nurture your customer relationships effectively.

All companies – no matter how hard they work to prevent it – will struggle with duplicate data at some point in their business lifecycle. Unless you have stringent data deduplication strategies in place, your CRM software is certain to have some level of duplicate records. The question is: how much are they affecting your daily activities?

If duplicate records are making it hard for you to deliver a solid customer experience, then it’s time to clean up your customer data and eliminate multiple records. Keep the following tips in mind as you work to clean up the data in your CRM software solution so you can work more effectively:

  1. Develop a clear, methodical plan of action for cleaning up your data. Keep time and budget constraints in mind as you develop your plan.
  2. Perform a full system backup prior to any work.
  3. Validate and test your process in the system’s test mode before you make any permanent changes to your system. This is the time for you to work out any kinks in your plan and fix potential issues that could make your data situation worse.
  4. Maintain a detailed log of every step (including when you did it) so you can go back and repeat it (or troubleshoot where things went wrong).
  5. Standardize all related records such as state and country codes. Clean data fields will allow you to more easily identify duplicate records and make any necessary changes or fixes.
  6. Set up merge rules and processing scenarios to identify the set of data you want to keep. Make sure that the text field you created will merge with the duplicate record so you don’t lose any important data or information. Review all merge results with regular users to identify any errors.
  7. Perform a test merge to see if there are any unintended consequences. You may need to wait a day or two to make sure the daily batch updates don’t create any problems with the merged records or re-create the duplicates.
  8. Once you’ve tested everything in test mode, run the data deduplication process in the actual system. Keep an eye out for side effects in the following days.
  9. Utilize data detection tools. Set up these tools with the fields and matching criteria that will best identify potential duplicate records so you can prevent future data duplication.
  10. Analyze the sources of your duplicate records and work on eliminating the inflow of new duplicate records.
  11.  Back up your system a final time and continue to periodically perform a system review of your CRM data.

It’s important to keep in mind that high-risk records generally have more information connected to them, so you need to be especially careful during the merge. For most CRM systems, the customer account is the high-risk record, meaning you cannot merge accounts easily. Since most accounts have several outside systems contributing to their records, many companies opt not to merge accounts in their CRM at all. Finding a workaround method, therefore, is essential to maintaining data integrity.

As with most business processes, data deduplication is a process, not an event. Even if you manage to clean up all of your CRM records now, a software or process change will instigate a whole new set of duplicate records that will have to be cleaned up and reviewed. We recommend performing a data integrity check on a monthly basis.

If you’d like to learn more about maintaining accurate records, give us a call today at (866) 990-3994. As a Sage CRM Software reseller, we specialize in helping small and mid-sized businesses get the most from their CRM solutions.

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