CRM and data protection – key considerations for small businesses
Posted in The virtual assistant blog
No business can afford to fall foul of data protection laws, and yet with companies of all sizes collecting data in various forms for sales and marketing purposes, it can be easier than you think to trip up. That’s why it’s important that small businesses look at the issues of CRM and data protection as a whole, rather than individually.
Does your CRM data give you a head start?
If you already run a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, you know that it helps you to collect, organise and use data to give you a head start in communicating with existing and potential customers. Once used only by much bigger businesses, CRM systems are now agile and flexible, with several versions designed specifically for small businesses, and it is predicted that the use of this type of software will grow at a rate of just under 15% to the end of 2017.
That’s good news for companies who want to streamline processes and focus their marketing, but it also means more time needed to administrate the system and a real need for understanding what you can and can’t do with the data you hold. Properly collected, input and managed, CRM customer data is a valuable tool. Let the system get clogged up and disorganised, however, and you could do your business more harm than good.
Why does your CRM data entry practice matter?
If you collect and input data into your CRM system in a haphazard way, or become over-enthusiastic about harvesting data from your customers without storing it or using it efficiently, you are not only wasting a valuable marketing resource; you are potentially risking mis-managing the personal data of your customers. Inaccuracies, inputting mistakes and a poor understanding of how to use your CRM system to its best advantage can cost you money and – in the worst case scenario – ruin your reputation.
Depending on the type of data you store you may also need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 which is enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office. They have a range of measures they can take against companies found to be in breach of the act. These include a fine of up to £500,000, criminal prosecution which can result in a prison sentence and submitting to a set of defined actions to improve compliance.
And like all other legislation, ignorance of the Data Protection Act and your obligations under it is no excuse. Larger companies appoint a CRM data manager for precisely this reason, but smaller companies need to share the burden of CRM management – either internally or by outsourcing their CRM data entry to a trusted supplier.
A positive approach to data management in CRM
CRM systems are incredibly valuable when used to their full potential. So the last thing you need is for your staff to feel that your system is cumbersome, useless, and a waste of money that could be spent elsewhere. It’s important that, having invested in a CRM system, you make the most of the benefits it can bring, whilst also ensuring the data you hold is accurate, secure and only used for the purposes you have declared when collecting the data.
Taking a positive approach will help to integrate your CRM system into the everyday working life of your business, and use it as a tool for generating new business and growth, rather than as something that needs to be ‘put up with’.
But it’s clear that, for many small businesses, the burden of administration can outweigh these positive benefits and many have virtually abandoned their CRM system because it simply isn’t delivering the value for money that was originally planned. Better to leave it alone than get it wrong and risk data leaks or poor customer service because of old or corrupted data.
Virtual data entry – service outsourcing
Increasingly, companies are choosing to outsource CRM data entry to a third party, such as a data entry virtual assistant. Why? Because by putting your data entry management, cleaning and security in the hands of a virtual assistant your CRM management will deliver good clean data without impinging on your employees’ time and energy. When you want to run a campaign, you can be confident that the data is as accurate and relevant as possible. You’ll be able to segment your data for targeted communications and it will be straightforward to access, update and collect the data you need to grow your business. In fact, by deciding to go down the CRM data entry services route, many businesses have solved their CRM issues affordably and effectively.
Are you confident that your CRM system is not only working hard for you – but in good enough shape to keep you compliant with the Data Protection Act? To find out how we can help you manage your CRM and data protection challenges, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.