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How to improve CRM data capture

Thanks to customer relationship management (CRM) software, gathering and storing large amounts of customer data and using it to market your products and services has become easier than ever. For CRM software to be truly effective, however, relationship-based businesses need to maintain high-quality CRM data. 

Many companies struggle to streamline the data capture process for their team members. When CRM data capture takes too long or is too complicated, data quickly becomes out of date and irrelevant, causing team members to lose faith in the CRM system. 

Investing in better CRM data capture practices is worth the time and effort. When you can trust your data capture process, your team can trust your customer data, and they can spend more time sourcing, managing, and closing deals. 

In this guide to best practices for capturing CRM data, you’ll discover some simple steps any company can take to improve their data capture and get more from their CRM system.

stop wasting time with manual data entry—give yourself time to close deals

What is CRM data capture?

CRM data capture is the process businesses use to collect and compile information about their prospects and customers. CRM platforms capture a wealth of valuable data that salespeople on traditionals sales teams and more relationship-oriented dealmakers use to nurture prospects into customers or clients and turn those new deals into referral sources.

The goal of good data capture is expanding, improving, and maintaining a company’s customer base.

A basic CRM system capability and functionality checklist includes:

  • Contact management and customer profiles, including phone numbers and email addresses
  • Customer segmentation tools to organize customer data into groups sharing similar characteristics, such as geographic location, age, or buying patterns
  • Social media profiles like Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Customer opportunity management—also called “lead scoring”—to help identify the leads that are most likely to convert
  • Lead management that enables salespeople to follow up with potential clients based on a variety of factors
  • Mobile CRM access, to get access to critical data on any device, and be able to make important decisions fast, no matter where you are
  • Report generation so you can visualize important metrics and have access to real-time data updates about contacts and deals
  • Integrations with business solutions such as email marketing tools
  • Project management and task management tools to assign tasks, set deadlines, and follow up with employees to make sure nothing falls through the cracks
  • Any other relevant and valuable data across the entire customer lifecycle, GDPR information, customer service data, and more

Why high-quality data capture matters

According to the research firm IDC, bad data costs US businesses $3.1 trillion per year. Another study by Experience Data Quality found that companies lose an average of 12% of their potential revenue due to bad data.

And while some data problems come from chronically poor data management, often the biggest issues start at the point of information capture. 

CRM platforms are often a hefty investment for companies, and capturing and maintaining high-quality, accurate customer data is the only way to get a solid return on that investment.

Here are a few more reasons proper CRM data capture is critical:

  • When reps are missing context about potential customers, their interactions are less meaningful, leading to missed opportunities or failed deals.
  • Inaccurate forecasting and reporting can cause strategic issues and make it hard for management to make real-time, data-backed decisions.
  • Embarrassing automation mistakes can hurt a company’s brand reputation (for example, segmentation errors that lead to incorrect email messages landing in a prospect’s inbox).
  • Incorrect contact information can hurt customer experiences and cause companies to lose trust.
  • Bad data or dirty data can also waste money—for example, sending materials to the same customer multiple times due to duplicate records.
  • Broken integrations with other software platforms can waste time and energy and cause frustration. If data issues are causing problems in your Salesforce and HubSpot tools, it will slow down your team and can bring marketing and relationship-building to a halt until issues are resolved.

As important as clean data is, high-quality data capture can be challenging. Manual entry into spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets is prone to error, including missing data, duplicate records, or incorrect information. Entering data manually is also enormously time-consuming, and every moment a salesperson spends entering CRM data is a moment not spent on building relationships. 

stop wasting time with manual data entry—give yourself time to close deals

5 ways to improve CRM data capture

  1. Audit existing data
  2. Automate data capture as much as possible
  3. Build standard data capture processes
  4. Providing best-practices training and support
  5. Ensure your CRM is a single source of truth for your data

1. Audit existing data 

You will only be able to identify critical CRM data capture problems when you audit your existing data. Research from SiriusDecisions showed that between 10% and 25% of B2B marketing database contacts contain serious errors.

Examine your current data to look for common errors and find opportunities to improve data capture standardization. Intelligent CRM platforms also provide technology that will help audit your data as you onboard and during subsequent data imports by highlighting duplicates.

The type of customer- or client-related data errors you are searching for in your audit include things like:

  • Incorrectly formatted data: Phone numbers, states, and zip codes should all be expressed using identical formats.
  • Inconsistent data: Fields like job titles may have consistency problems, like the use of “COO” and “Chief Operating Officer.”
  • Missing data: Some records may be missing some important information, like an email address. Make sure each customer record is complete.
  • Low data quality: Identify poor-quality records that include very little usable data (like obviously false names, or free email addresses)

Identifying these issues and others like them will make it easier for you to build more effective data capture processes for your CRM so you can start seeing data quality improvements.

 

2. Automate data capture as much as possible 

When it comes to how to improve CRM data capture, automating data capture is the most powerful step you can take. For every one hundred keystrokes, professionals make an average of one error. Given that the average salesperson spends many hours every week capturing and updating CRM data, that error rate can lead to an astronomical amount of incorrectly logged data in your CRM. 

Some errors are also more costly than others. A one-letter error in a key prospect’s email address (the difference between “janesmith@company.com” and “jaensmith@company.com”) could mean the difference between signing a deal and missing an opportunity completely. 

The best way to prevent low-quality data from hitting your CRM is to eliminate as much manual entry as possible and automate the input process instead. Relationship intelligence CRM platforms like Affinity automatically create and manage customer records by pulling in inbox and calendar data, and then they enrich the profiles with up-to-date industry data. 

Automation is the answer to many data capture woes. It not only improves the quality of CRM data, but it also frees up your team from data drudgery and gives them time to focus on building relationships. 

 

3. Build standard data capture processes

Identify the fields that are the most important to the business needs of your organization. These are the fields that you’ll use most in automated personalization, like names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Fields like job title may also be important in lead scoring, so if a job title plays a key role in prioritizing a customer's record, identify that field on the “critical” list, as well. Cleanse and standardize one field at a time, across your CRM. 

After your initial cleanup, define a detailed CRM data capture process for every new contact and ongoing relationship. 

stop wasting time with manual data entry—give yourself time to close deals

A poll from Harvard Business Review found that one of the biggest complaints of employees was a lack of clear direction—particularly about administrative tasks. Give employees clear, step-by-step directions for CRM data capture. Document these processes well, giving clearly-defined workflows and examples that help explain how the processes work and why the steps are important. 

Communicate why the employee should care about high-quality data capture, and how it will make their lives easier and help them focus on building relationships and closing deals. 

 

4. Provide best practices training and support

Employee adoption is one of the biggest barriers to successfully deploying a customer relationship management system, so providing training and support is critical. 

Improving CRM data capture requires that everyone in your organization buys into the new way of doing things. Solicit upper management’s support in making a concerted push for higher quality data and better data capture processes.

Educate your team on proper CRM data capture habits (which becomes much easier if those processes are automated), so everyone understands the tools they’re working with and why you are moving away from clunky solutions like Excel spreadsheets

Your training and CRM support system could include:

  • Company-wide or team-specific training events or workshops
  • One-on-one practice sessions with trainers
  • Customized tutorials within the CRM 
  • Q&A workshops with key influencers and advocates
  • Pop-up support desks at your location

Your internal training sessions can also help you identify frequently asked questions about CRM data capture, so you know what information to include in your process documentation.

The management team may need customized training that is specific to their needs, and your entire organization may need programs and personalized support. This includes every department that will be using and maintaining CRM data—including marketing, sales, and customer success and service.

 

5. Ensure your CRM is a single source of truth

Your CRM system should be integrated with all your other business solutions, so data can flow freely and team members can see all interactions in one place. A CRM should include all the interactions your deal team or sales team has with both current and potential customers or clients—including email messages, meetings, phone calls, and other communication.

When your CRM system is a shared source of truth across teams, everyone can see prospects, referrals, and potential partners at a glance, spotting the best path to introductions and understanding the best marketing strategies to use for every contact in the database. Intelligent CRM platforms also include relationship scores that quantify the quality of the your relationships to further improve your team’s likelihood of succes.

If your team has to input data manually, it’s not a trusted single source of truth—it’s likely riddled with errors and missing critical details. Consider a CRM with automated data capture to ensure all data gets captured quickly and cleanly.

Using an automated, relationship intelligence CRM platform for data capture and data management

Manual CRM data capture inevitability leads to human error, and the risk of bad data goes up substantially. These errors lead to duplicate records and poor data quality which directly affect your bottom line. 

That’s why leading venture capital firms, investment banks, and private equity firms are using automation to transform their CRM data capture process and eliminate time-consuming data entry. 

Affinity automatically pulls in contact profiles from your inbox and calendar information, so your team can stop manually logging activities, and allocate more time to engaging with customers, developing business plans, meeting prospective clients, and driving sales. You can free up hundreds of hours per team member, per year, with Affinity’s automated CRM data capture.

To improve CRM data capture and excite your team with a customer relationship management platform they’ll love using, talk with an Affinity team member today.

stop wasting time with manual data entry—give yourself time to close deals