4 dimensions to keep your Microsoft Dynamics CRM data clean and fit for use

February 4, 2015 TM Group

4 dimensions to keep your Microsoft Dynamics CRM data clean and fit for use

The right approach to CRM data means better outcomes.

Customer relationship management software helps businesses by adding beneficial concepts to and removing more negative duties from overall work processes. The sharing of information between different departments is an example of the former, while duplicate detection and merging is an example of the latter. CRM, in short, provides many different benefits to organizations keen on improving their interactions with customers. However, no CRM system is completely and totally automated, meaning that users still have to follow certain best practices to get the most out of the software.

Here’s a look at four areas where a little education and involvement on the part of business users goes a long way toward improving the functionality of CRM, keeping data clean and, ultimately, the results for an organization:

1. Keep it integrated: combining data flows
One area where businesses can suffer is a lack of integrated data. When information isn’t consistent, it’s harder to effectively manage and use it. When it comes to CRM, users who need to update certain fields can become confused or make a mistake and enter information into the wrong field, making them unable to use a system to its fullest. The TM Group’s CRM Practice Manager, Kevin Alexander, said companies need to be consistent in the terminology they use, especially when the same data is being accessed by different departments or teams. This simple fix helps to eliminate many sources of confusion and frustration, while taking advantage of CRM’s ability to function across all areas of a company.

Two other concepts to consider in this space are read-only ability and field-level security. CRM system administrators need to take advantage of these tools to provide access to information while limiting the possibility for accidental deletion of correct information or the entry of incorrect data, creating a balance of security and visibility.

2. Keep it in the database: Eliminating offline databases
Modern CRM solutions have the ability to track all relevant aspects of client interaction, from recent purchases and credit worthiness to mailing recipients and product update lists. Despite this ability, many employees still turn to disconnected outside databases such as Excel spreadsheets to track information they don’t immediately associate with CRM. This is a classic example of lost productivity and reduced output on the part of staff, as they can use CRM to do much of the work for them. Kevin Alexander pointed out that CRM is fit for all purposes when interacting with clients, whether it’s tracking purchasing habits or generating a Christmas card list using internal rules and qualifiers.

Alexander also pointed out that Microsoft Outlook, a tool used by many to track client contact information, integrates into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. By using CRM to support such efforts, a consistent record available to all relevant parties is created, cutting down on confusion and improving visibility. In essence, using such a platform leads to standardized sharing and better dissemination of information.

3. Keep checking for duplicates: Streamlining records
While good training and an emphasis on best practices will significantly reduce the chance for duplicate CRM data, it’s still important to check the system and resolve such issues. The software is powerful enough to run duplicate checks based on a variety of attributes, from phone numbers to email addresses along with many others. Running a duplicate check before adding new records is an easy and important task.

“In CRM, those are really easy things to do and catch before putting a record in,” Kevin Alexander said, noting the safety net that CRM offers when it comes to duplicate records.

The ability to check bulk records for duplicates is another aspect to consider. Just as staff members should occasionally check records directly related to their tasks, a mass query is valuable as well. Modern CRM solutions allow users to run such a check and then merge similar or identical records. This allows companies to retain the unique and possibly important information present while also streamlining the system and creating a more efficient user experience.

4. Keep it relevant: Highlighting the user experience
Kevin Alexander pointed out that failures related to CRM use often begin at adoption. In other words, problems that develop early on can negatively impact a system later on as employees don’t have the right education related to use or don’t understand best practices.

One of the areas that can be addressed in the user experience and relevancy realm is data entry. Employees shouldn’t have worry about what type of information to enter or whether or not a given piece of data is relevant. Internal control of CRM systems through individually set rules helps make the user experience more conducive to success, allowing users to focus on the right areas. Additionally, the creation of different forms to present the same data in the most relevant ways to different departments also needs to be a consideration.