Cleansing Salesforce Data – Best Practices

Emily Scott |
 Salesforce |
 Mar 10, 2021

Well hello, again fellow data lover! Today we’re going to chat a bit about cleansing Salesforce data. Perhaps your data quality issues are small, quick formatting fixes. Or maybe you’ve got a 20-year-old system that has become a sea of duplicates so vast that you don’t even know where to begin. Or you could have a constantly rotating team doing data entry, all using their own individual ideas around naming conventions.

We get it, the overwhelm can be immense. But you just have to take that first step, and then they all get easier (and more fun) after that. In addition, once you realize the amount of data storage you’re going to get back (and money you’re going to save) after you delete all those duplicates and detached records, you’ll be searching in every nook and cranny for all the dirty data you can find to purge.

Dirty Data

What does it mean to have “dirty data”? Dirty data is inconsistent, incomplete, outdated, incorrect, full of typos and errors, and ridden with duplicates.

What does “cleansing your data” mean?
Why is it important to clean your database?
What is the impact of not cleaning up your database?

Cleansing Salesforce Data

Cleansing your existing Salesforce data means getting rid of (or archiving externally) anything that is no longer relevant, deleting and/or merging duplicates, fixing errors/misspellings/typos, filling or removing empty fields, reformatting phone numbers and addresses to be uniform in entry, correcting open text field entries, and updating outdated data.

A clean database increases productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and projectability; a dirty database costs you revenue, relationships, and time.

Having endless duplicates and incomplete/inaccurate data costs your employees time searching for records. The details they need could be spread across several duplicate records, resulting in a less-than-delightful experience for both your sales/support reps AND your customers that keep having to tell every rep they’ve talked to the SAME information over and over. I know I’ve had that experience as a customer more times than I can count. It wastes everyone’s time, and reflects poorly upon your company and your customer service experience.

You could have thousands of Contact records in your database. But if you aren’t systematically collecting and tracking important data points in a standardized way, you aren’t going to be able to derive any useful or actionable insight from that data to make projections or to even understand the true current state of your organization.

The Cost of Dirty Data

It’s important to keep in mind that cleansing your data gets exponentially more expensive the longer it lives and grows in your system. A quick reminder is the 1-10-100 rule. It costs a company $1 to verify if a record is correct, $10 to correct it, and $100 if nothing is done about it and it continues to live and be utilized incorrectly in your system. Now multiply that by the number of suspected dirty records in your system. Yikes, right?

Have you ever gotten an email that started with “Hello, {FNAME},” or something similar, that makes it very apparent to the recipient the email you’re about to read is going to try and sell you something? The sender/company’s intention was to make you feel special, address you by name, and personalize your experience with them in that moment. But their dirty data tainted that experience for you, and they more than likely don’t even realize it.

That email calling your precious customer {FNAME} leaves an impression, however minor. The perception is of disorganization, lack of care, unprofessionalism – all things which will impact your brand in the eyes of those unknown {FNAME}s. **Tip: If you’re sending email marketing blasts, don’t use merge fields before knowing that your data in that field is complete and accurate.

Salesforce Data Cleansing Best Practices

Now that you know why this is so important, here’s how you can get started on cleansing your own Salesforce data.

  1. Prep your team. Data deletion can be a scary concept for some. Be transparent and clear with your team about the importance of this exercise to the long-term health of your company. Ensure awareness of what is about to happen and secure buy-in from the stakeholders involved. Remember that you can archive this bad data elsewhere that isn’t costing you money – but is no longer taking up costly storage space in Salesforce – just in case.
  2. Identify your Data Cleanser(s). This is a big job, likely even bigger than you think it is. Make sure you have someone or several people with the bandwidth and attention to detail that this tedious task is going to require.
  3. Identify your Data Validator(s), or your source of truth. Who in your company truly knows what data should be entered and how it should be formatted? Or is it an outside system you’re integrated with that you can reference? Establish clear and specific guidelines around data entry and formatting, and check out this post on data cleansing best practices for some excellent guidance around establishing data entry and validation procedures going forward.
  4. Pull reports to identify the problematic data and surface the records that need to be cleansed. Data Quality Analysis Dashboards App is a helpful place to start. This tool leverages custom formula fields on many of your standard objects to record data quality and record completeness. The formulas are then depicted through dashboards to identify deficiencies in record data. This will allow you to determine where to start tackling this giant beast.
  5. Purge the dirty data. This is the fun part! There are many tools that can help you with this daunting task – make sure to do your research to determine the best solution for your particular situation. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Duplicate Check for Salesforce – Able to run fully automated deduplication jobs, offers advanced duplicate prevention features, and can detect duplicate records all over your system – from manual insert and imports to records created via the Salesforce API. This tool is also 100% native, meaning there is no data-transfer at any point when finding, merging, or preventing duplicates. In other words, your data is secure.
    2. DemandTools – The #1 choice of Salesforce Administrators globally, this tool simplifies data management using a full suite of data quality tools that deduplicate, standardize, verify, import, convert leads, and more.
    3. Cloudingo – This tool mass deduplicates, merges, imports, converts, and migrates data, keeping all important data like notes, attachments, and relationships intact.
  6. Clean up page layouts and remove unused fields. If you’re not using the fields, there is no need for them to clutter up your UI and give your users the option to enter erroneous or unnecessary data in them and send you back down the path of dirty data.
  7. Establish a data cleansing schedule. Whether it be monthly, quarterly, or yearly, make it fit your business. But don’t let your company drift back out into that vast sea of dirty data!

Once you get your system sparkly clean – or if you’re starting fresh – head on over to my post on best practices and procedures to maintain clean data, and a quality system as your database grows!

I understand that this topic can be very overwhelming, especially if your database is many years old. I hope I’ve given you a helpful nugget or two – there are many resources available to help you tackle the beast, including scheduling a chat with us to get a little guidance! Feel free to reach out to us here to discuss cleaning up your Salesforce database. Thank you for stopping by our blog, I hope you have a super week!

Emily Scott

Emily Scott

Project Manager

Emily Magone is a graduate of Seattle University (Masters of Executive Nonprofit Leadership) and Western Washington University (Human Services) with over a decade of domestic and international program and project management experience in the nonprofit and small business sectors. Emily is a small business owner herself and is a Certified Salesforce Administrator as well as an Associate Human Resources Professional, and military spouse of an active duty Air Force service member.

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