I was recently asked by a business software website about my thoughts on the most important features people should utilise to get the most out of their CRM system. I think what they expected me to talk about were new, cutting edge tools but my answer was simply, “Most companies should focus on the basics rather than looking for advanced CRM features, and that is capturing good data.”

customer relationship management

My reason is that data is one of the most valuable assets an organisation has. Good data helps you to, amongst several other benefits, improve processes, reduce costs and service customers better. The main focus of any CRM strategy should be to improve revenues by acquiring, retaining and growing high valuable customers and prospects. It’s impossible to do this without good data.

For example, how do you know who your high valuable customers and prospects are without the data to prove it? How can you build relationships without understanding your customers? This is why data is the most important aspect to consider in CRM.

Sure, CRM solutions have other benefits such as improving business processes but data is central to all aspects of CRM and too many organisations aren’t getting the basics right. So ultimately I was saying that businesses should start small with their CRM system. Lay the foundations with good data and data practices and continually analyse and review. It should definitely not be a once only process, pre-implementation.

Think carefully about what needs to be captured. For example, the products/services a customer has bought, when they bought them, the channels they use, what associated or related products they would benefit from. This will allow you to analyse trends in your customers’ buying behaviour to tailor communications to specific groups or individuals. Ultimately this will lead to improved revenues, while ensuring that customers don’t ‘switch off’ as a result of irrelevant messages.

Therefore it’s my belief that when implementing a CRM system, businesses should walk before they run. Get the fundamentals right and the focus should undoubtedly be on data.

As the saying goes, "Bad data in, equals bad data out."