May 16, 2023

CRM Cleanup Checklist: What Is Data Cleansing and Why Is It Important?

Perhaps your company has collected prospect and client contact information well, and you’ve amassed a lengthy contact list. It might feel fantastic to look at such a long list of names, but is it as healthy as it is long?

How can you ensure those contacts are still accurate and qualified?

Enter: Data cleansing! 

So, what is data cleansing, and why is it important? Simply put, it’s the process of updating or removing errors, corruptions, duplicates, and incomplete data from a list. Also known as data scrubbing, this crucial part of the data preparation process aims to provide the most accurate dataset possible. 

Believe it or not, “dirty data” does exist. And it can cost your business money over time—as much as 12% of total revenue! These losses manifest via: 

No matter what you use for your database—whether a client relationship management (CRM) platform or a spreadsheet—it gets “old and moldy” the less it gets touched. Your database is only as good as the last time it was updated, so it’s essential to keep them fresh.

The cleaner your data is, the more accurate and trustworthy it is. A clean database will help:

A man using automation for data cleansing

But data cleansing can get overwhelming quickly, so we’ve created a checklist to help you streamline the process! Read on for best practices and tools for data management below.

Step 1: Data Cleansing Automation

One way to reduce the burden on your team is to use data cleansing automation. However, multiple factors will determine which kind of automation your business needs—or if you need any.

Automation Benefits

Automation in data cleaning workflows is critical in order to scale. Automation can significantly impact data aggregation, or the phase when you gather and organize data from all sources (more on this shortly). 

Automation works best for those processes that an owner (i.e., subject-matter expert) manages. These tools:

Automation Drawbacks

On the other hand, automated data cleansing software has several drawbacks. Consider that:

As you get started, weigh your company’s needs and understand your processes to determine if and where automation makes sense.

If you’re still unsure, you might consider handing the entire process to an outsourced call center. They have the experience and tools to clean your database regularly and efficiently. It will cost them much less time and money than it would cost your business, and your employees can focus on their core responsibilities.

Step 2: Gather All Data

If you’re cleaning for the first time, your contact database may be scattered among spreadsheets, a CRM, and maybe even written notes (yikes!). Now it’s time for data aggregation, or compiling all that data in one place.

Data often comes to us in various forms, shapes, and sizes, so it’s no surprise 95% of businesses report the need to manage unstructured data is an issue for their business. This is why organizing your contact database into a CRM is essential!

But first, you must collect and prepare your data, which is where automation comes in handy. Data aggregators are automation tools that:

  1. Collect and compile information from various sources, such as databases, websites, social media platforms, and other online sources, to create a comprehensive dataset.
  2. Clean and standardize the data to ensure it is accurate and consistent, such as removing duplicates, correcting formatting errors, filling in missing information
  3. Enhance data by appending additional information, such as demographics, social media handles, and email addresses
  4. Map data fields and transform the data into a format compatible with your new CRM, so it’s easy to import
  5. Validate the data to ensure it is accurate and complete, including running quality checks and verifying the data is consistent with your requirements
  6. Automatically import the cleaned data into your new CRM, ensuring it is structured in a way that is easy for you and your team to access and use

By the end, you’ll have a new CRM with a properly managed dataset that enables your team to make strategic business decisions down the line—all while saving significant time on manual processing!

Employees working on CRM cleanup

Step 3: Resolve Duplicate, Missing, and Inconsistent Data

If you are managing the data cleansing process without automation, it can be incredibly tedious and time-consuming. You’ll need to know exactly what to look for when going through your contact list, so it’s best to go in with a plan. 

Follow these steps as you perform your CRM cleanup:

Remove Duplicate Contacts

First, remove duplicate or irrelevant contacts, typically due to inconsistent data entry and contact information collection from various channels.

While there are automation tools that can speed up duplicate data removal, you may have to go through your contacts the first time manually. But you can avoid this in the future by:

Edit Structural Errors

Structural errors include odd naming conventions, typos, inconsistent abbreviations, and incorrect capitalization/punctuation. These can result from manual data entry and having no data standards. You’ll want to fix these errors as they can cause mislabeled contacts, which leads to more issues in your overall database.

Ensure Completeness

You might come across fields with missing data—for example, a missing last name or email address. A contact without complete contact information won’t be much use! You have three options to address this issue:

While none of these are ideal, they can help you keep as clean a list as possible.

Maintain a Healthy Database

As we mentioned at the top, your contact list can quickly become outdated if not managed consistently. After all, people change email addresses, phone numbers, and jobs. You’ll want to: 

A meeting talking about data cleaning vs data cleansing

Step 4: Preventative Care

If this is your first time scrubbing your data, record the steps and processes you take. You can keep your contact list fresh in the future by:

Ongoing database cleansing and management will help you better understand your customers and their needs, which means you’ll provide better service and solutions. A high-quality database plays a pivotal role in fostering customer satisfaction and loyalty!

So… What Is Data Cleansing and Why Is It Important?

Data scrubbing (or cleansing) is crucial, particularly when it comes to your contact database, because it ensures that your contacts are accurate, up-to-date, and relevant. This empowers your business to:

After every contact list cleaning, you should also validate your data by asking:

Now that you understand the impact of effective data cleansing, you also appreciate the hefty work it entails! If you would rather partner with a database management company to take this off your team’s plate, Chameleon can help. We have extensive experience in contact list management and utilize the latest data cleansing software to maintain our clients’ databases consistently and efficiently. No more “dirty” data here! Contact us today to learn more.

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