Why Keeping Good Data is Important for Business
Over the past month, I have had the opportunity to work with two businesses and their data.
The first business is someone who has kept everything manually and know that down the track, eventually they may want to sell their business. So they’ve engaged me to work back through a LARGE pile of paperwork to create a data base of their clientele and the jobs undertaken so they have that history and client information in a centralised location.
The second client is someone who needs their existing data reviewed and cleansed. Some data is missing and some fields are formatted differently. This database is something that is used on a regular basis so it’s important to review the existing data (luckily only a few hundred entries and not thousands!) so that it is able to be used with accurate client information.
Both clients understand the importance of good data…And now you can too!
Regardless of whether you have existing data or starting from scratch, you get the opportunity to determine exactly what data is to be collected/recorded; how the data is to be collected (think forms, business cards and the like) and formatted.
STEP 1 – STANDARDISE
If you are setting up the database from scratch, determine what data is to be collected and how you would like it formatted. For example – let’s take a look at telephone numbers. There is a plenty of ways you can enter this data:
- (07) 1234 5678
- 07) 12345678
- (07) 12345678
- 07 1234 5678
- 07 12345678
Then there is addresses! Determining the formatting will help you and your employees in the long run. If you are using a customised system, get your Developer to pre-format these fields (if possible) so that regardless of how someone enters the information in, it is automatically formatted for them. Or see if the system you use can have this pre-set.
If you have existing data – determine how you want the data to look and again ask a Developer to pre-format fields for future data entry and then take time to tidy up existing data.
STEP 2 – DATA CLEANSE
If you are uploading your data from an spreadsheet, take the time to cleanse through this by formatting consistency, removing the duplicate content and fill in any missing data (this will save you A LOT OF TIME in the long run when the data is uploaded into the system).
If you have existing data and system that you are using – there is a couple of ways to cleanse the data so to speak (and I’m not talking cleaning products!). Firstly determine how many clients that you need to review and either update as you or your employees are talking with their client, Or secondly, spend the time to ring each client and take 2-10 minutes to update their data (including obtaining anything that may be missing).
STEP 3 – MONITOR
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort to get your data to the point of it being almost 100% (and I say almost because changes will always occur and data will always need to be updated!). So schedule into your quarterly plan, the time to review the data. This could be for any duplicates where you can merge records; archive old clients; or update client information/records of interactions (ideally do this as it happens!).
STEP 4 – BEST PRACTICE
Take the time to ensure all of the details that you’ve determined are documented into a Data Policy. This will assist new employees so they know what is required of them and also existing employees. Hopefully it will also assist with everyone creating great habits when collecting and entering data and keeping client information up to date.
Invariably data does and will change! Data maintenance is a task that is never complete as information does change, people change, business names change. However by keeping the information up to date you and your business will:
- Have better productivity as you know your data is accurate;
- Enable you to undertake effective marketing; and
- Ensure all staff are consistently entering data.
Between the current tasks I’ve been working on for my clients and the years I’ve spent working in a CRMS team (Client Relationship Management System), keeping good data is important for ANY business, including us small ones! So get started today, even if it is with a basic spreadsheet, you are well on the way to keeping good data. Download my Infographic today to assist you with your data today.
And if you need any help with your data entry, just…Call on Jo!
Until next time!