29th Oct, 2021
, , Designation
- Small and medium businesses continue to struggle with database management and are unable to use customer data to its maximum potential
- Know how to undo the damage inflicted by poor data management practices
- Understand how data management practices have changed in the post-pandemic world
Thanks to the advances made in technology over the past couple of decades, businesses can map their customers with accuracy and precision. This ever-burgeoning amount of customer data has enabled enterprises to make strategic decisions related to marketing, engagement, and retention. The ease with which data can be collected and analyzed has helped businesses of all scales and sizes to transform their business model and operations. In fact, there is an entire industry of B2B database providers that helps businesses grow by using comprehensive data to curate targeted campaigns.
But there are some caveats. Data demands maintenance; it needs to be stored and organized efficiently to maximize its potential. However, surveys and studies show that most businesses do not pay adequate attention to database management. Let us find out what are the pitfalls of ignoring customer data management practices and how to reverse the damage of a poorly managed SME database.
Challenges with customer data management
Unless validated and updated regularly, data tends to decay within short spans. This usually happens when businesses treat data collection as a one-time activity. Decay, in this context, refers to the decreasing utility of data owing to changes in the customer particulars. For example, the people listed in the database might change their contact number, address, place of work, or email id. According to some estimates, 3 percent of all data is rendered obsolete in this manner every month.
Read our blog, “Battle-Tested Ways to Expel B2B Data Decay and Elevate Sales Prospecting” to demystify some of the business-proven tactics to eliminate data decay in businesses and propel sales prospecting to new heights.
Data redundancy usually occurs when the process of data collection, entry, or storage is not optimized. When businesses fail to check for duplication of data, or poorly designed data templates that have the same information. Redundancy can also increase if the database is stored at multiple locations for safekeeping, and their merger can lead to duplication.
Here’s one thing that many small and medium businesses do not foresee when they start collecting data: it requires massive investment. Whether stored on the cloud or on-site, data storage requires resources. While managing cloud data is usually simple, maintaining a local data centre is more challenging. Storage space, networking devices, servers, backup, security, operating software and systems, cooling systems, and power — all these are investment-intensive components of an on-premise data center.
The collection, storage, usage, exchange, sale and management of data (particularly sensitive customer data) is regulated by international, national, and local laws. At times, keeping up with the strict mandates can be a challenge for small and medium businesses with limited budgets. This explains why many SMBs turn to B2B database providers for accurate and compliant data.
Impact of poor database management on business
Poor quality data and inefficient database management inevitably affect the productivity and efficiency of businesses. Tangible impact on the revenue can be observed in enterprises that do not manage their data effectively. Mismanaged customer databases diminish the scope of marketing and sales campaigns, while also having a cascading effect on several other vital business processes. Here are a just few ways in which a business may suffer if databases aren’t managed properly:
- Losing out on potential customer base
- Loss of revenue
- Reduced marginal returns on database investment
- Breach of security/database hacks
- Lawsuits in case of data theft/leaks
- Lower customer engagement and retention
- Debasing of brand value
- Dead leads
- A drain and burden on other assets
What constitutes successful database management?
While big organizations have the resources to maintain a large corporate database, most businesses turn to database service providers. However, enterprises that are getting started on their journey of customer database management must keep the following strategies in mind:
Keep the data clean
Experts say that data scientists spend nearly 60 percent of their time on data cleaning. They do it for good reason; because inaccurate data might actively harm the end goal. Therefore, ensure that data cleaning and hygiene practices are followed frequently without fail. Set up data cleaning protocols and practices that must be executed by dedicated resources. Data cleaning implies weeding out duplicates, completing missing data, verifying data relevance and authenticity, and correcting mistakes. Data integrity reports can be created on a regular basis to identify errors and rectify them in a timely manner.
Standardize data entry methods
Devise a nomenclature to be used throughout the organization and train data entry personnel, employees, data scientists, and teams to use them consistently. All details which can lead to variable interpretation (like personal titles, address formats, abbreviations etc.) must be standardized. All customer details must be made uniform across the data collection and entry points to ensure that they enter into the database in a clean and parseable manner. Customize the database management system to accept information in standardized formats only.
Keep the database updated
Data becomes irrelevant quicker than most businesses realize. In the digital age, people are always on the move; they are changing their company, contact, residence more frequently than ever before. Think of an employee who has just changed his/her place of work; by effect, they have also changed their email id, professional number, and most likely have moved within or outside the city. Hence, for a B2B database to stay valuable, it must be regularly updated with the changed information.
There are data verification tools and services to periodically authenticate customer information. Similarly, all marketing and promotional communication sent to them must give them the option to change or update their shared information.
Make the database accessible
Design data flows and data structures in a way that people without technical expertise find it easy-to-operate the database. Train employees on how to access and maintain data within the system, automate as much as possible, and focus on providing an easy-to-learn user experience of the interface.
Ensure technical updates
Whether it is updating the storage, hardware, or cloud system – be sure to expand the capability of the system in accordance with the size of the database. Take regular backups, put in place data security systems, and keep adding its capacity regularly. A database system that crashes, hangs up, or fails to provide the right information in a timely manner is an impediment to organizational growth.
Unlock expert recommended database management practices to overcome data decay bottlenecks and drive customer engagement campaigns for improved sales prospecting. Read the blog, “Expert Opinions: Best Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Data Decay and Improve Sales Prospecting” to know more.
How database management has changed in the post-Covid world
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of real-time data has grown manifold and there is an unmistakable effort to make data accessible to all business functions. Data is being used not just to make strategic business decisions about marketing or promotions but also to build connected experiences for customers that span across devices and platforms. There is an increased emphasis on refreshing traditional data models and analytical frameworks of the 2010s and integrating more flexibility into data-based decision making.
Over the past year, 45 percent of businesses have made ‘major or significant’ changes to their data management models. This also reflects the rapid changes in which customers are interacting with data differently. Thus, organizations are dedicating resources to refresh databases and integrating new data points (like location) into existing models. Existing company databases and platforms are also being merged with S&MA (sales and marketing automation) solutions. With rising instances of data hacks and leaks, privacy and security of customer databases have also been a top priority for businesses.
Customer data is a perishable asset that decays without maintenance. B2B sales data is particularly vulnerable, with nearly 70 percent of prospect lists being rendered obsolete every year. A mismanaged customer database can result in lower revenues, impact the business brand, and drive-up costs. Partnering with data providers is one way to simplify customer database management. Alternatively, organizations must prioritize periodic data cleaning, data validation, and data maintenance to harness the power of customer data.