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Three steps to CRM data success

Ed Wrazen is vice president marketing, International, Harte-Hanks Trillium Software

Trillium Software’s Ed Wrazen explains the importance of compliant data to a successful CRM project

The attraction of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the promise of unifying an entire enterprise based on its ability to sell to, serve and retain customers better than before; to be able to gain clear visibility into customer spend trends, improve engagement, service and loyalty and maximise life-time value. One survey by Nucleus Research, suggests every US$1 spent on CRM delivers a US$5.60 return.

The truth is though, that it’s not quite that simple. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a powerful tool. But achieving the business goals set for the investment demands high quality data. And that means implementing effective data quality processes.

The need for quality compliant customer data
While recognition of the importance of data quality is growing, surveys suggest that companies still pay it too little attention. It’s been reported that at least 25 per cent of most companies’ data is probably inaccurate.

Common problems found in CRM data generally, include misfielded information, missing and inaccurate postcodes, wrong phone numbers and e-mail addresses, misspelt names and addresses as well as duplicate records. According to one well-respected analyst firm, 50 per cent of companies are not satisfied with their current CRM programmes for just this reason – lack of data integrity. Many problems stem from migrating data from multiple source systems, which vary in standards, formats and quality resulting in the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ syndrome.

Alas some users still attempt to use Excel spreadsheets to detect data quality issues, a wholly inadequate strategy given the volume, velocity and variety at which data is arriving. The challenge is one of latency. It is no wonder that nearly 50 per cent of CRM implementations fail to deliver and often are not fully adopted by users who do not trust the information.

Armed with complete, accurate and consistent data, you’ll most certainly achieve a reliable customer view and get the most from Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Ed Wrazen, Trillium Software
Three steps to Microsoft Dynamics CRM-compliant data
Ensuring good data for Microsoft Dynamics CRM requires creating a data quality compliance process for validating that the data being entered meets required standards for cleanliness, relevance and timeliness. Whether that is through a batch, overnight process, or is real-time at point of entry. There are three main data compliance steps:-

  1. Assess the quality of existing data and its degree of reliability and consistency. Get some quantified insight into the quality of your data before you even begin to migrate it to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. Data profiling gives you complete insight into the quality of your data, including compliance with your own specific business rules. Having identified the issues in your data, you can then determine how to remedy them.
  2. The appropriate data quality software should also convert these rules into processes that transform and correct the data into a common format. A standardised and corrected customer record ensures it will match with associated data coming via other channels and with legacy systems of data collection. This ensures that associated customer, company, sales, orders and historical data is linked to the correct person as well as any external data appends.
  3. Finally, the same repeatable process created for step two can also be embedded into your Microsoft Dynamics installation and other relevant offline and online customer-centric systems to automate the validation and correction of data at point of capture. Choose a specialist data quality software, like Trillium Software, which plugs into the Microsoft Dynamics platform and enables you to incorporate your own rules. Not only is the data then validated, cleansed and enriched to your specification, but also assured as relevant to your specific CRM needs.

Proceed enlightened to the importance of data quality and you’ll avoid the latency and cost problems commonly associated with post-CRM data reconciliation. Armed with complete, accurate and consistent data, you’ll most certainly achieve a reliable customer view and get the most from Microsoft Dynamics CRM!

Ed Wrazen is vice president marketing, International, Harte-Hanks Trillium Software

Trillium Software is a Microsoft partner and provides integrated solutions for Dynamics CRM, Windows Azure, SQL Server Integration Service, and Master Data Services.

For more information, visit the Trillium Software Microsoft Dynamics CRM site.

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