September 25, 2021

Tips to improve data quality in your CRM

We’ve all though heard the data cliché ‘garbage in, garbage out’. This never rings more true than with CRM software. CRM systems are critical for keeping track of sales pipelines, custom communications and business processes, but they are often filled with ‘ugly’ or worse, invalid data.

In this short article we’ll explore some concepts around data validation and how you can deploy some simple ideas to your CRM to help keep your data health and useful!

How did my data get like this ?!

Data validation is the process of ensuring that the data in the system is accurate, formatted correctly and in turn useful. Untruthful data in a CRM can produce a variety of issues from inaccurate reports, duplicate records, reduction in productivity and even cause missed opportunities.

A symptom of poor data is when field values that have been left empty or filled out incorrectly and this leads to records not appearing in search results, reports or campaign marketing lists.

Manually validating and updating data as required is a slow process and not all data entry issues can be solved by simply making a field ‘mandatory’. A mandatory field simply requires that the field is not empty, it does nothing to review the quality of that data.

I’m sure you have experienced contact data entered with the last name value set to ‘Unknown’, because a CRM user couldn’t find, or failed to record a surname for their contact. </Face palm>

Now that’s not to say required fields are not a viable way to ensure data is entered correctly, but it is best served on fields where values are already set such as a picklist/dropdown field.

Consider Validation Rules

Validation rules are advanced CRM functionality that allows you to configure rules and conditions for what your data should look like when being entered by your CRM users.

Validation rules are best used when the data that needs to be entered is highly variable such as a phone number or an address.

It is also important to use validation rules only on fields that are important to the business for reporting and/or reducing issues further down the track. A validation rule on every field will just hinder and slow down your users and in turn it might do the opposite to increasing productivity.

Some Examples Please?

Here are some examples of easy to configure rules that will improve the quality of your CRM data.

Mobile Numbers

This can be quite important if you have an integrated phone system that requires numbers in a specific format. Also keeping numbers in the same format will help prevent duplicate contacts if you set the field to be unique.

Number of characters: 12

Must start with: +61


This can prove quite important if you send lots of letters or parcels and you need to ensure they get to the right location quickly. Or perhaps you need to report on geolocations based on postcode.

Criteria: State = SA or South Australia

Must begin with 5

Criteria: State = VIC or Victoria

Must begin with 3 or 8

The above examples where created using Zoho CRM which lets you create rules easily for any module using the validation rule builder. These validation rules are available in Settings > Customization > Modules and Fields > Module Name > Validation Rules.

If you have more complex validation rule requirements, Zoho CRM also allows for custom functions, if you cannot achieve the required result using the built in validation rule builder.

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