Has it ever happened, that you make a follow-up call, only to find out that another member of your team had already contacted the customer? That would be a little embarrassing but where was the confusion? After cross-checking you clearly noticed that there was no record of a call being made to the contact, but there sure was a duplicate contact, assigned to another sales rep!

Inaccurate or incomplete CRM data often hamper sales and marketing performance. Many of your contacts would have changed their phone number, email address or even their company, leading to an accumulation of redundant and incomplete data in your CRM. So how are you going to maintain clean CRM data? Help yourself with these 5 tips to not only get your CRM system under control but also to save time and headache down the road.

#1 Maintain Complete Data
Ask yourself one question: How complete are my records? Believe it or not, incomplete information is not a good sign for data quality. The CRM account requires you to fill in numerous fields that are mandatory. It’s time-consuming! And as a sales rep, that becomes a reason for you to neglect proper data entry. The best way to deal with this is to set important fields as mandatory: like name, email address, phone numbers, and address. So, determine the fields that are most important for complete information and encourage users to fill in those important details.

#2 Avoid Entry of Duplicate Leads & Contacts
Since email address is unique for each individual, one simple trick to prevent duplicate records is by comparing the email address of the contacts. While adding a lead/contact in Zoho CRM, you now have an option to check whether the newly added record already exists in your CRM account. Now this will definitely save the effort of going through the records for duplicates

#3 Existing Duplicate Records? Merge Them
Preventing duplicates work great when adding new contacts manually, collecting leads/contacts using web forms, importing, etc. But what about eliminating duplicates from your existing data? By now, you will surely agree with me when I say that duplicate records are not necessarily identical. Let’s say, two contacts have the same last name, email address or company name but one record has a phone number or address that is not found in the other. This is sometimes frustrating as some of the crucial information that you are looking for is scattered in both the records. In that case, instead of blindly deleting one record and potentially losing important data, you can merge the information into one contact.

#4 Maintain a Style Sheet
While automation does most of the work, human efforts are essential for data quality. One way to make data entry easy and maintain consistency, is by introducing naming conventions. Sometimes you see the same country name in different formats. For example, USA, US, United States of America. You can avoid this by creating a list of abbreviations and standard data entry formats for data items like postal addresses, company names, designations, etc. Having a standardized format for all the data helps you generate accurate reports and filter records based on the exact criteria. Pre-defined drop-down values also helps a lot in eliminating a small part of the problem.

#5 Use Roles for Security
With data pouring in from several sources and multiple users accessing it, maintaining a clean CRM database is not that easy. One best practice is to restrict access to data in your CRM account. Define Roles that will help you control the access rights of users while working with CRM data. That way, users will modify only those records that are relevant to them.

We all realize how important it is to add clean data in the CRM system… and not just that, to avidly maintain it too! Maintaining data quality is not a one-time event. If not taken care from the beginning, you may end up having a tedious task ahead.

These are my top 5 tips, do share your techniques to maintain a clean CRM.

  1. Jakob Neua

    It would be a great help, if it was possible to match dublicated leads / accounts on a custom field.

    My issue is that people spell the company name diffrent, we don’t always have a name and e-mail for the contact person – and when we import list that is just ready to explode.

    The list we import comes from the national company register, and all of them have a VAT number. If we could match on that number, we would never have to worry about duplicates again. Please make it possible to match on custom fields.

  2. Ramon Andrews

    This is a very helpful article on maintaining data accuracy. Data managers are surely delighted with this very informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pavitra

    @Mark You are right! The ‘copy address’ function will not work if a custom State field is used. We do understand the problem and we’ll be providing a solution to it. We’ll keep you posted on this.@Roosewalt You can edit the ‘Industry’ pick list field to add more values. To edit the field, go to Setup > Customization > Fields. Here is a help link for more details: http://www.zoho.com/crm/help/customization/custom-fields.html#Add_Pick_List_Values

  4. Kendra Von Achen

    Mike – Yes there is! You can use the Date Created field to either create a custom view or a report, and then do what you need to from there. For example, the other day I turned on the Google Contacts sync with Zoho CRM. the field mapping was incorrect so it created a duplicate of every contact in Zoho. I searched by create date of today after a certain time, and then deleted all of those records within a minute!

  5. Kendra Von Achen

    Juan:Yes, I agree that the system is global. But if Zoho gave us the control to update the drop-down list, it would alleviate that issue. It’s easy for me to populate the State drop-down if there was one! Without one, we’re all out of luck.

  6. Mark Harper

    I would love to create a drop down for the State fields but I can’t seem to edit these default fields. If I create a custom field, it will not allow the ‘copy address’ function. Any hints on how to get around this.

  7. Roosewalt

    please advise how to include more industry types in new leed create page

  8. Simon

    Often times the duplicates/data entry issues are already in the database, and duplicates are more difficult to detect than the exact match methodology used in zoho/ Cleaning it up can be a hassle if you don’t have the right tools and knowledge which is why we created our software specifically for CRM cleanups and data integration.http://www.dataladder.com

  9. mike

    is there a way to search contacts by the date the contact was created? thanks

  10. Chris Wood

    This is the first time I have gone through a wonderful article about maintaining customer information. We couldn’t find any proper solution for this issue yet, but it helps me a lot indeed. Thanks for the great sharing 🙂

  11. Juan Alvarez

    Kendra,A drop down sound good, but since the tool is used world wide, The list of the United States would not be useful elsewhere. In order for this to work the list should change according to each country and that is rather comprehensive and maybe difficult for the zoho team to build. (timeconsuming)

  12. Kendra Von Achen

    On the lines of #4, it would be great if you’d give us a drop-down for the State field in the address for both Leads, Accounts and Contacts, to maintain consistency of data throughout the system. Right now it’s a text field and this can cause confusion, mismatched data, etc.

  13. Pavitra

    Hi Gloria,When accounts are deleted, you can restore the deleted records from the Recycle Bin in Zoho CRM (Setup > Data Administration > Recycle Bin). However, the records cannot be retrieved once the administrator deletes the records from the recycle bin. As for the Account Number, you can change it if you have the profile permission to edit the accounts.

  14. Gloria Mason

    how do I undelete accounts or change the account numbers