Customer Data Management, Part 1: Best Practices for Cleansing Data
Customer data management is the process of collecting, maintaining and aggregating pertinent data on your customers and prospects. When it’s done right, good data management can help you more efficiently find the right prospects, convert more prospects to customers and expand your relationship with those customers for a stronger return on investment. However, done wrong or not at all, it could cause you to leave money on the table, or even worse, you could drive quality customers straight into the arms of your competitors, costing you lost revenue. You see, if you don’t maintain current, relevant information on your customers and prospects, it is difficult to understand their business, much less their business needs. It will be challenging to match them with the most relevant products and offers, and you could struggle to offer the highest level of customer service. But, you can bet that if you’re not connecting the dots between their business and their needs, your competitor likely is.
In this brief three-part series, we share easy steps you can take to create a quality customer data management process that can provide comprehensive visibility into and across your business prospects and customers. You’ll discover how to convert data clutter and chaos into customer clarity that helps you better understand and pinpoint opportunities and risks so you can securely, efficiently and effectively grow your business.
In this first installment, we offer a few best practices to improve and expand upon your customer data management.
Start with clean data
The first step in the data management process is ensuring the data you have is current and complete. Customer data may be separated across various functional departments and systems, making it very challenging to manage. However, it is important to verify the accuracy of the records. There are three methods of verifying customer information generally followed when verifying business customer information:
- Consulting public records;
- Contacting the customer by phone, e-mail or regular mail. Be aware that many customers are suspicious of providing identifying and other potentially sensitive information over the phone, so be prepared to positively identify your company and your purpose for confirming the information; and,
- Purchasing the business records from a third-party vendor and merging it with your in-house data. When choosing this option, you will want to obtain data that is as close to its original source as possible.
Now, put that data to work
Once you have cleaner data, it can be analyzed it to identify potentially new clients and expand relationships with existing clients. Both of these tasks begin with identifying your ideal customer. By examining the characteristics of your best customers, you can create a profile of your ideal customer. Keep in mind that your “best customer” isn’t necessarily your oldest customer, nor is he the customer who buys the most products from you. He may be your most profitable customer.
Once the characteristics of the ideal customer are known, the data acquired may be used to identify prospects that fit your ideal customer profile. These are firms/businesses that will have the same characteristics as your ideal customer — whether that is industry, annual revenue, number of employees, geographic location, or any of the dozens of other firmographic attributes.
The next step is to focus your marketing efforts toward these ideal prospects in a personalized way. The more you know about your customers — how and why they purchase — the more efficiently your marketing messages can be tailored going forward.
Don’t overlook customer opportunities
Customer data management can also help you expand and strengthen your relationships with your existing customers. By understanding your customers and what they need, more cross-sell and upsell opportunities can be identified.
Many companies mistakenly assume that their customers are aware of their entire line of product offerings. This is, of course, rarely the case. By understanding each customer’s needs, you can promote specific products and services that complement what customers have already purchased while also meeting their specific needs.
Regularly update your updates
Customer data management is not a once-and-done proposition. Customers’ information changes constantly as they acquire other businesses, open new locations, as well as their employees change jobs. Plan to cleanse your data at least once a year in order to stay on top of changing firmographics and to make sure you are getting the most out of your marketing campaigns.
Cleansing your data is the first step in putting the power of your customer data to work for your business. In the next two parts of this series, we’ll look at how to arrange the data to improve customer insights and how to link the data to maximize customer relationships.
Image source: Flickr
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