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Don't let GDPR and the new Data Protection Bill scare you. If you employ good data management practices throughout your business, you're well on your way to compliance.

One of the fundamentals of good data management is knowing what data you collect, store and process as part of your business functions.

You can perform a data audit to answer these questions, and whilst they can take a lot of time, they are invaluable going forward, and will help you when the new legislation comes into force.

Most businesses will discover that they collect a lot of data, and store it in silos around the business.

Maybe Accounts store the payment details for your customers, Sales store contract details, Marketing use customer contact details etc...

You might have an accounts package like Sage, a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management), data stored in your emails and some good old fashioned spreadsheets. This might work now, but it will make data management more difficult going forward.

In the case of a data subject access request, how will you be able to find every piece of data on a customer you have, and get this to the customer in a timely manner?

Technology can help you to reduce the places you hold data, and make processing data more efficient.

A CRM System

Your Customer Relationship Management system should be the main place you hold your data. Ideally, your CRM will integrate with your website forms, email software and accounts packages so that the data is consistent.

Why is it important that your data is consistent across your business?

Managing Preferences

If you keep your marketing data in different databases, how do you know when someone updates their contact preferences? If someone unsubscribes from emails, asks not to be telephoned or no longer wants to be sent postal mail, that information should be held centrally. If it isn't, you might be calling someone who has asked not to be called which can get you in trouble with the Information Commissioner's Office. It’s also really bad for customer satisfaction.

Keeping customer data up to date

Have you heard the horror stories of businesses continuing to try and contact deceased customers? Well if you have different business functions using different databases, it can be a common issue. Less dramatic but equally as bad for customer satisfaction and reputation is failing to update contact details like addresses, emails and telephone numbers across your whole business. Having one CRM that feeds your other systems can remove this issue.

Building personas and profiling

Having good data management processes improves customer satisfaction and helps compliance with data protection laws. But it can also enable you to create personas and profiling which is integral to finding the right customers and marketing to them.

Profiling and personas mean that you can target your marketing and adverts to the right people. Don't waste money by trying to sell to customers outside your target market. You can only create personas and start profiling if you have the right data and can analyse it properly. Having your data centrally makes this easier.

CRM systems work best when they're designed with your business in mind. Our software development team build bespoke CRM tools that can integrate with Sage, other accounting tools, email platforms, stock control systems and more. 

Date published: 11/10/2017

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