Data Quality Do’s and Don’ts
To ensure data quality, focus on these key areas: manage changes in the status of contacts, adopt “orphans” left behind by attorneys, input missing data, and gain full participation and adoption.
Part 1: Degrading Data Quality
In today’s highly mobile markets, up to 30% of a firm’s CRM contact data can degrade each year. People get hired, fired, promoted and change jobs; they move and change addresses; they get married and divorced; some retire and a few die. This means that if you don’t pay attention to data quality, your end users will begin to distrust the data and, by association, the CRM system. It’s also important to appreciate that your CRM data represents relationships – and relationships represent revenue.
To encourage ongoing system adoption and utilization, data quality and maintenance have to be top priorities. Resources have to be dedicated – including time, money and people. Processes and procedures need to be put in place to maintain ongoing quality. Most importantly, training and communication are essential to ensure that end users don’t create unnecessary duplicates or introduce more bad data into the system. Additionally, there are several areas to focus on to ensure ongoing data quality success.
Part 2: “I See Dead People” (in my CRM system)
Many of us may remember that chilling quote from the movie The Sixth Sense. But seeing dead people in your CRM system can be almost as disturbing. Nothing is more likely to cause end users to tune out and turn off than finding deceased contacts in the system.
Even more disturbing, these contacts are often known by multiple people in your firm – but not everyone is always aware that the person has passed. So when the contact is taken off a mailing or event list, sometimes people will continue to add them back to the list. This can be incredibly problematic, as the last thing anyone wants is to send a card or invitation to a prominent former Client who died and then receive an uncomfortable phone call from their family or former company.
So you have to have a consistent process and procedure for dealing with deceased contacts. One good method is to have your marketing or data quality team involved in the process. When they find out that a contact has died, they can put ‘DECEASED’ in the title field and move all contact information to the notes field, along with the date the contact was marked deceased. This way, you ensure that the person should not receive future e-mails or calls. These updates will then flow back to other people who know the contact and everyone who looks at the contact record will then be aware of the person’s passing.
Part 3: Adopt the Orphans
There is nothing sadder than a poor lonely little orphan – especially in your CRM system. When a record is left in the system and all the attorneys who once knew the contact are gone, the record is essentially abandoned. It’s left all alone in a CRM world where relationships are so very important.
So what is a CRM caretaker to do? Well, start by regularly keeping watch for the little abandoned orphans. It’s rare for them to be left prominently on your CRM doorstep. Instead, you have to go looking for them. Run regular searches for records with no relationships to individuals still at the firm.
Once located, orphans require care and feeding. Essentially the firm should have a transition policy in place to assure that its orphans don’t go uncared for. When attorneys leave the firm, their contacts should be regularly reviewed to determine whether they should remain in the system. Frequently, the answer is yes because they usually have a history with the firm and may be receiving communications.
The important orphaned records that remain should be ‘adopted’ by other attorneys in the firm who will agree to ‘foster’ relationships with them. With a little attention and nurturing, they may someday grow into happy new Clients.
Part 4: The Missing Pieces
One of the most common CRM data quality complaints we hear as CRM Success Consultants is that key pieces of contact data in the system are missing. This significantly reduces the value of the system and hinders adoption. Let’s face it, it’s challenging enough to get people to actually use the system. But if they finally do decide to go looking for something and can’t find it, it will be exponentially harder to get them to go there again.
What’s even worse is that, without complete contact information, it can be challenging or impossible to communicate with your contacts – which is the whole reason most organizations bought the CRM system in the first place. The goal is to share relevant information, communicate expertise and occasionally invite people to events. Without complete data, all the time and intellectual capital spent on producing content and events is wasted. And in a firm where professionals are often billing hundreds or over a thousand dollars an hour, that adds up quickly.
To solve the CRM data quality puzzle, you have to ensure that your data is not only clean and correct – but also complete. Fortunately one of the benefits of CRM is to assist in this process. When users know the same contacts and they share this data into the CRM, when the duplicate records are merged, the final record will contain information from each of the users. Even if each person only has a piece of the puzzle, when the record is deduplicated, the pieces will come together into a much more complete picture. This is why data stewards are such an important piece of the CRM puzzle…
Part 5: Herding the CRM Cats
The beauty of a CRM system is that by relying on the collective information of all of the CRM users, contacts should be kept updated across the organization. If anyone gets updated information and simply modifies their contact information in Outlook, updated information should flow out to everyone who shares that contact. Everyone wins. That is, everyone who participates.
But as we all know, getting everyone to participate in CRM can sometimes be like herding cats… very smart cats… with opposable thumbs. If users don’t participate, if they don’t share their contacts and relationships, if they don’t update information or if they don’t regularly review contact updates, then nobody benefits and CRM becomes just another piece of overpriced and underutilized piece of software – aka, the glorified rolodex. So the question becomes, how do we keep this from prevent this from happening…
Part 6: The CRM Wreck
Having worked with almost a hundred firms to help them achieve and enhance CRM success over the last eight years, the biggest challenge we always seem to run into is CRM adoption. Firms consistently tell us that their CRM system is literally a ‘wreck’ due, in large part, to poor participation.
These firms frequently say that in the beginning of the CRM deployment, everything seemed to be running fine. They purchased the right system and implemented it without a hitch. The system was firing on all cylinders, but then at some point they seemed to hit a wall with adoption.
Down the road, this seems to become an issue for almost every firm. In fact, we ran into this exact scenario just last week. After investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time into their CRM implementation, the firm just can’t get the partners to take the wheel.
While it can be tempting for some rubberneckers to simply do a drive-by and observe this type of CRM car-nage, we think it’s more helpful to put on the brakes and actually analyze a CRM crash to help a firm shift gears and accelerate change…