Do you have a guide to contact management? You don’t?! Follow me on this guided tour on how you can start managing your contacts so you can get the most out of all that customer data you’ve worked so hard to collect. In a recent report by Experian Data Quality, it was found that “Ninety-four percent of U.S. companies are leveraging data and data quality in an attempt to optimize their customer or prospect experience. Most commonly, half are using data and data quality to develop better targeting. This is followed by using data to deliver more accurate communications to customers and prospects or to develop better personalization.” They went on to say that while there is a wide variety of ways businesses are using data to improve their customer experience, the businesses that use their data successfully are more profitable. The first step to putting data to work in ensuring you have a fully integrated database which contains quality data. I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to clean and synchronize your current databases, and some strategies you can implement to ensure your data quality remains high.
You’ll need to pick which app you want as your central database. For solopreneurs and freelancers, this might mean Google Contacts or Outlook. Some small businesses use Excel spreadsheets. If you’re in business, whether you’re a solopreneur or have a dozen employees, I strongly recommend that you pick a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software as your central database. For those of you who are just starting out with CRMs and want to test the waters a bit, there are many CRMs out there that are free for individual users ( Insightly and HubSpot CRM are two options). You can take a look at our free ebook “Beginner’s Guide to CRM” for more tips on how to choose a CRM that suits your needs.You’ve probably got your contacts scattered across several apps, a few thousand in an email marketing platform like MailChimp, another couple of hundred in your accounting software like Freshbooks, and it’s a mess. Your first port of call is to get all of these disparate platforms synced up so that customer data is easily transferred through all of them.
Every week or month you’d have to go into every single one of your databases, export data, and import more data. If you have a growing business your contacts are quickly out of date with this method, which can lead to all sorts of headaches for your employees.If you have large customer databases then import/export can take up huge amounts of your time.Big Data Consultant Ted Clark, from the data consultancy company Adventag, said that “80% of the work Data Scientists do is cleaning up the data before they can even look at it. They’re data custodians rather than analysts. Anything you’ve done more than three times, you should automate – it might take longer the first time but the other times you will save time and focus on an analysis.” Forget import/export, it’s an outdated relic of the early 2000’s. The days of import/export are over.Technology has evolved to the point that it requires a more integrated solution - data synchronization. Use PieSync to automatically sync your data across all your cloud apps. What does this mean? Concretely, you set up the sync in the PieSync dashboard, authorize the sync, and then PieSync does the rest. You will have all your contacts automatically synced across your connected business cloud apps, two-way and in real time. You don’t have to touch the sync again (unless you want to take a peek to see what it has been doing) and all of your contacts will be continuously up to date when you need it.
Your business is built on the strength of your contacts and the last thing you need is to lose these contacts. While our systems are 100% safe, and so are most business cloud apps, you will need to do some heavy manual editing to truly get your database clean. Most CRMs allow you to backup your data - if they don’t - export this data in a CSV file and save this file to your desktop. At the very least, if your manual editing goes wrong you’ll have this file to go back to.
When PieSync syncs your contacts it will automatically match contacts with the same address. But most CRMs have a “merge duplicates” function. This is different for each CRM so I advise you to find out how to do this with your chosen CRM through their help articles. If your CRM does not have this function, or if you are a Google Contacts user, you can merge your duplicates for free using Google Contacts Merge Duplicates tool. You can merge your contacts manually if you know you only have a couple of duplicates and you know which one they are. Simply search for those entries and click “More” on the menu bar above the contacts, then click “Merge Contacts” in the drop down menu. And like magic three become one: This method is great if you have a couple of duplicates you need to eliminate, but the reality is businesses amass duplicates and have no idea that they are lurking in the system. So it is impossible to manually check and merge each entry, especially if you have thousands of contacts.
Luckily Google Contacts has already thought of this. You can bulk merge duplicates and stay in the driver’s seat of this process - so you don’t accidentally delete valuable information.Click on “More” in the menu bar. Then click on “Find & merge duplicates” in the drop down menu. This screen will pop up: Click “expand” at the top to see all the duplicates. Check carefully the contacts Google Contacts is proposing to merge, if you don’t you may accidentally merge contacts that should remain separate. Unselect any duplicates you don’t want to merge and then click “Merge” at the bottom of the popup.Your duplicates should now be merged - which means your data can be synced to other cloud apps.If you want to learn more secrets about Google Contacts, check out our free ebook “ The Ultimate Guide to Google Contacts”
Once you’ve synced your data and merged your duplicates, you’ll have a database that’s in pretty good shape. But in order for it to be absolutely top-notch, you’ll need to go over it with a fine-tooth comb. This step will obviously take some time, but if you implement company-wide data entry standards and make a commitment to quality data, you will only have to do this once.