Your sales team is employed to sell your products and services so why are they spending so much time looking for customer information rather than selling to them?
This is a common issue for many businesses and is on the increase as more organisations move towards ‘big data’ systems. The principle is highly logical - collect as much information about the customer as possible, what they do, their beliefs, likes and issues, and you’ll be able to pitch your sale in a way that makes it practically irresistible to them. The more customers who see your offer as irresistible the more money you will make. Problems arise when the data available is poorly managed, hard to access, irrelevant or, (worst of all), inaccurate. As a result salespeople are struggling to wade through a mass of data to find that one gem that is crucial to them, and this is as frustrating to them as it is to you.
Fixing these issues doesn’t have to be complicated. Look at each of these elements in turn and pinpoint any issues with the systems, process or people that have the potential to cause problems, either immediately or further along the customer journey.
Data Structure: For example, the client hierarchy system you use and how you categorise contacts. Making sure data is organised coherently and correctly means it is easier to access and analyse. The structures you use to store the data can also influence how you collect it (e.g. text and number formats).
Data Collection: How do you collect the information at source - do you collect everything and filter later or just gather what’s considered relevant? How do you ensure the data collected is accurate, how does it affect other data already collected (e.g. overwrite, side by side or record versions), how do you prevent duplicate data and records being created? These are just some of the issues to be considered at this point.
Data Access: Can people find the information they need. Do they know its significance and what to do with it once it’s accessed?
At each point of your analysis consider why the issue is occurring. Is it a systems problem, is the process flawed, or are the people involved not fulfilling their role correctly (either unintentionally or deliberately). Prioritise your actions by weighing up the effort involved in every fix against the value it will bring. You should also consider what implications these fixes will have on systems, processes and people further down the line - will changing something here in a certain way cause more difficulties in other parts of the business?
After all of this you should have a roadmap in place of actions to be taken. Our final tip is to test throughout the implementation. Don’t wait until everything has been completed before you make sure it works - there are bound to be unforeseen issues that arise as a result of these actions. It is best to identify and resolve these as soon as possible before they escalate.