How to handle duplicate records within CRM

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One of the most time-consuming tasks when it comes to managing databases is handling duplicate content. Handling it manually with all the digital solutions available today is like inviting torture for yourself or your team. Instead, it’s much easier and more time-efficient to handle duplicate records within CRM software. However, that also takes some skill and experience. Even if you have experience with customer relations, duplicate records can quite easily slip through and cause issues. With this in mind, you should learn how to handle them before setting up a CRM software solution. That way you can┬ámanage your customer relations properly, right off the bat. So, with that in mind, here is what handling duplicate records in CRM is all about.

Creating a plan for duplicate records within CRM

Computer screen with a large amount of data.
Once you understand the importance and the amount of customer data, you will know why it is difficult to handle duplicate records within CRM.

It is a common misconception to think of duplicate records as a simple problem with a simple solution. Unfortunately, there is no single piece of technology that can tackle it for you. Instead, you need to understand that it is a multilayered problem that, naturally, requires a multi-layered solution.

What you need to keep in mind is that handling duplicate records in CRM requires a plan. These are written guidelines that all of the people handling CRM software will follow. This includes that data entry is done in one way, and one way only. From accounting to customer info. From abbreviations to punctuations. Everything needs to be standardized. If your software is going to do its job, you need to ensure that your employees are doing theirs. So, try your best to instill proper data entry standardization as soon as possible.

Ensure that everyone sticks to the plan

Manager teaching a member of staff how to handle duplicate records within CRM.
Make sure to invest enough recourses into CR staff training.

Unfortunately, ensuring that your employees stick to the plan is far from easy. You first need to provide ample training to give everyone the necessary information and skills. Then you need to explain to them what their mistakes cost you, and why it is paramount that they are brought to a minimum. If your employees are going to be conscientious, they need to understand the true weight of making a mistake.

Only then will they approach data entry with proper concentration and attentiveness. Explain to them that they should enter new information with great care, and that small mistakes are something that they should always be on the lookout for. If they implement that with good CMR workflow automation, you will reduce the odds of duplicate entries to a minimum.

Using the right methods

Luckily, you won’t have to solely rely on training your CR staff. Hunting for duplicate data is made much easier by utilizing the right tools. A common method is to check for duplicates before entering new data. If you type in existing info, most tools will notify you that the info is already in the database. This can be a mere coincidence or an expected occurrence. The important thing is that the person entering the data knows what it is so that they can respond properly. The more information you can afford to check for each entry, the less chance there is to enter duplicate data.

With this in mind, it is important for your employees to fill out each field for every entry. Unfortunately, if your workers are tired, they will be prone to skip filling out a field, especially if they deem the information unimportant. Well, there are tools that simply won’t allow you, workers, to leave empty fields. This is good as the more fields you utilize, the less chance there is to duplicate info.

Handling duplicate info

For instance, say that you have two entries where one has a misspelled name (Jon Smith and John Smith). If you solely rely on the field name, you will be in trouble as there is little chance you will register it as a duplicate. But, if you have five more fields, and all of them have the same info, you can reliably say that those two are duplicates. The more fields you have, the easier it will be to notice duplicates.

Now, let’s assume the opposite. Let’s assume that you have two entries that appear to be duplicated, but in fact, are not. Two Jon Smiths, that are entirely different people. Here, if you rely on names, you can make a different kind of mistake by assuming duplicate info where it is not. But, if you have more fields, you will see that the two Jons are completely different people. Again, the more fields you have, the less of a chance that you will encounter such mistakes.

Getting outside help

A young business owner talking to a consultant.
An experienced professional can show you new ways to handle duplicate CRM data.

As we said, it is rarely easy to deal with duplicate info, even if you have a decent plan in motion. More often than not, some duplicate data will find a way into your system. And, once it does, it can be surprisingly hard to sieve through. If you do believe that there is a notable amount of duplicate data in your CRM system, you shouldn’t shy away from consulting with a professional. Dealing with issues like this requires experience that we cannot possibly convey in an article. Some consultants even stay on board permanently to save large companies from duplicate issues.

If you set up your plan as we’ve outlined you shouldn’t have a need for permanent third-party help. But, a good clean-up every now and then is always a good idea.

Final thoughts on duplicate info in CRM

By now you should have a good idea of how to handle duplicate records within CRM. As stated, doing so is a continual effort, not a one-and-done deal. So, to make the most out of your customer data, you need to do your best to continually address this potential issue. To put it symbolically, you are a captain ensuring that your boat has no leaks. If you train a good crew and use the right tools, your boat should be fairly sunk free. But, even the best captains run into unforeseen issues and need to find a decent carpenter to find and fix difficult leaks. So, again, don’t shy away from consulting with professionals when need be. You might learn a thing or two about improving your captain skills.

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