In an ever-increasingly digital world, personalised customer relationships are crucial for business success and quality data bridges the gap. However, according to a recent study on the State of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Data Health, 44% of respondents estimate that their company loses over 10% in annual revenue due to poor quality CRM data which results in the loss of customers.
Additionally, 79% of business around the world say that the decay of CRM data has accelerated at an unprecedented rate due to the pandemic. “This is alarming, especially when many industries are still reeling from the fallout of the pandemic,” says Sam Clarke, founder and CEO of field sales management CRM and mobile ordering app, Skynamo.
“Bad data is to CRM, what COVID is to humanity. It starts out in small parts of the CRM system but then begins to proliferate. The more it does, the stronger the likelihood that it could impact the business.”
Fabrication drives data degradation
Clarke attributes the degradation of data quality during the pandemic to employees not having access to the information they needed to populate the CRM system during the lockdown period, leaving it incomplete or out-of-date.
Additionally, the CRM Data Health survey discovered a tendency amongst some employees to fabricate data in a way that tells the story decisionmakers want to hear. Seventy-five percent of people surveyed owned up to this, with 82% saying they were asked to find information to support a specific story, rather than provide accurate data.
“Fortunately, sales CRM tech can help mitigate this by detecting and flagging fabricated data as suspicious and worthy of examination, acting essentially as the canary in the coalmine,” shares Clarke.
“But, if staff members are fabricating data, it’s likely because their incentives are unattainable, and to reach them they resort to dishonesty. With so many job losses and salary cuts at the peak of the pandemic, it’s understandable why employees might have tried to fudge data so that it appeared more positive as a way of holding on to what they had.
“This is where businesses need to be introspective about what is being asked of their employees and make sure it’s realistic.”
Prioritisation prevents the re-emergence of pre-pandemic problems
Clarke adds that even prior to the pandemic, data quality was a challenge. “This was largely due to CRM systems being overly complicated by various departments, ranging from marketing to operations, wanting to capture and store their own particular data for their business needs.”
His advice to business owners for avoiding this is to simplify what they want from their CRM results. “Data quality is more valuable than quantity. It’s far better to have five fields of accurate information than 15 fields of incomplete or inaccurate data.
Start by thinking about what insights the company needs to meet its most pressing business priority. Once that is addressed, CRM can be applied to the next priority. Trimming down the amount of data required from the CRM system will increase the data quality metrics.”
The dangers of data decay
Clarke explains that poor data quality leads to poor strategy choices. “If the available data isn’t trusted, then business owners are either forced to make strategic decisions based on gut fee or they make the wrong decisions which could have debilitating bottom-line impacts, including revenue and customer losses.”
Employees are also feeling the pain, with 64% reporting that they would consider leaving their current role if additional resources are not allocated to a robust CRM data quality plan.
“It is extremely frustrating if one’s job is dependent on quality data from the CRM but a plan is not in place to capture this. It makes these jobs far harder than they need to be. Science even suggests that frustrated employees actually change the data that they capture in line with their emotions.
This, coupled with the fact that we find ourselves in the era of the Great Resignation, can companies afford not to pay more attention to an issue that is easily rectifiable?”
Clarke concludes by saying that having accurate CRM data will aid in economic recovery as businesses figure out the challenges still lingering from the pandemic.
“Now more than ever, companies are relying on their relationships with customers to survive and thrive but having the relevant and correct data is vital to effectively retain and grow their customer base.”
Sam Clarke is the CEO at Skynamo.
Established in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2012, Skynamo is the leading field sales technology provider with close to 10,000 users at nearly 1,000 companies across a wide range of industries in Southern Africa, Australasia, the UK, Europe and the US. Skynamo’s field sales mobile app and cloud-based management platform are used by manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors with sales teams in the field, selling products to an existing base of customers. Skynamo integrates with a wide range of ERP and accounting software to improve order accuracy and fulfilment. Skynamo was named Sage ISV Partner of the Year for 2019 (Africa & the Middle East) and an Acumatica Certified Application and Customer Verified Application. Skynamo received $30million in funding from US-based software investment firm Five Elms Capital in 2020 and forms part of the Stellenbosch-based Alphawave group of software and electronics companies, with more than 100 employees in South Africa, the UK and the US.
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A related article also appeared in:
Retail Brief Africa on Jul 6, 2022