Well hello, fellow data lover! Today we’re chatting a bit about the importance of data cleanliness and some best practices to establish in your business in order to keep it that way. We’ll also cover some great procedures to implement for Salesforce data cleanliness.
As an organizational enthusiast who wants everything to have a place and be in that place, data cleanliness is a personal passion of mine. Unclean data can create various types of mayhem, depending on your business. But don’t distress, this is a common problem among growing businesses, and I’d like to empower you to get ahead of it!
So, what does it mean to have “clean data”? Clean data is uniformly formatted, consistent, complete, current, correct, and free of duplications.
Why is clean data important?
What can dirty data impact?
How can it negatively or positively affect your organization?
Dirty data can affect customer satisfaction and your brand’s image. Imagine Carrie Fisher is a long time customer. Each time she’s called customer service over the years, rather than taking the time to search for her account, your service agent creates a new account record. To add to the madness, they didn’t verify spelling. We have Kerry, Kerri, Keri, Cary, Fischer, Fissure, the list goes on. To make it even worse, every time Carrie calls in she has to explain her entire ordeal all over again because the agent wasn’t looking at the record those notes were already captured on. Your company appears disorganized and unconcerned with its customers’ needs. Carrie is frustrated, and rightfully so.
Dirty data can render your reports useless. If you’re pulling reports based on particular field criteria, and the data entered incorrectly in those fields doesn’t match your criteria…those records simply aren’t going to show up in your reports. Consider running a basic report of your customers that reside in Canada. Over time, your Sales Reps have entered CA, Canada, CN, Canadian, Kanada, and CND in the Country field, just to name a few. If only 15% of your records match your criteria, those are the only records you’ll see in your report. Having dirty data can totally misrepresent the actual standing of your company.
Data storage is expensive. The more records you have stored in your org, the more space you have to pay for. If you have 7 versions of the same record, that is 7x more storage that you’re taking up than necessary. Yikes! And this is completely preventable using OOTB Salesforce functionality. Want more info about data storage costs? Click here.
Salesforce Data Cleansing Best Practices
So what can you do to maintain a sparkly clean Salesforce Org? Start with the best practices below, and then expand and customize to fit your company’s specific needs.
- Identify where the data is coming in. Is it through your Sales Reps? Your Field Technicians? A Contact page on your website? An email provider subscription form? A general customer support phone number? Knowing where records are being created from will allow you to define and standardize those data entry processes.
- Establish clearly defined and strict data entry procedures. There are many ways to do this through OOTB Salesforce functionality. Here are some examples:
- Data Validation Rules – You can verify that the data a user is entering in a record meets the specific standards you establish before the record will save. You can involve formulas, expressions, true/false value returns, and other criteria. You can even set up an error message that will appear on an attempt to save an invalid entry, guiding the user through how to rectify the invalid data.
- Duplicate Rules – You can define what happens when a user views a record with existing duplicates or tries creating a duplicate record. OOTB Salesforce gives you standard duplicate rules for business and person accounts, contacts, and leads. You can also create customized duplicate rules – ones triggered only in certain conditions, for example.
- Apps/App Exchange – There are options on the App Exchange that bolster standard Salesforce functionality and help you to further clean and maintain your data. A couple of very popular Salesforce native apps are DupeCatcher (free) and DupeBlocker (paid).
- Required Fields – You can make certain fields required (via page layout or field-level security) to ensure that a record won’t save without having data entered in that field. Doing this assures data completion and significantly increases the quality of your data.
- Picklists – You can limit the selections available for a field via picklists and dependent picklists to help your users maintain accurate and consistent data entry practices. For example, much like the Country field scenario above, you can create a State picklist, formatted to your company’s preference – so it’s not even an option to select anything but WA for Washington state.
- Double Opt-In – Do you have a Subscriber form on your site? Do you integrate with an email marketing platform (MailChimp, ConvertKit, MailerLite, etc.)? While it’s a requirement in many scenarios these days, make sure you have this setting activated within your email marketing account. Requiring a confirmation from the email address that the Subscriber/Contact entered in the form will prevent the collection of bad emails and spam accounts in your database.
- Schedule a quarterly or bi-annual deletion of inactive contacts – Create and schedule a report to run based on a record’s last response or activity, and purge, export, or archive these accounts in accordance with what makes sense for your business and model. Those stagnant records are taking up valuable storage space and creating clutter that your users have to wade through to get what they need.
- Bestow Admin rights and User Permissions with great scrutiny – In most cases, you do not need more than 1 or 2 Administrators. The more power to make changes that are unnecessary to a user’s job, the higher the potential for not-so-clean data. Here’s a quick resource to help you think about your Salesforce staffing needs.
- Develop and conduct ongoing user training. This piece is crucial, or all your work will have been for naught. Once you’ve identified where your data is coming in and established the strict procedures around data entry, it’s time to implement those changes and get your users up to speed, comfortable and confident in what is expected. Here are some tips for training success:
- Schedule hands-on training. Sending out a Powerpoint in an email blast and hoping for the best is not going to get you where you need to be. Data quality is immensely important to your success, so treat it as such. Get your users in a room (virtual if necessary) together with your System Admin and literally walk through your procedures step by step. Verify their comfort and understanding of the system and how to use it. The more confident your users are, the better your data will be.
- Be consistent with that training. Salesforce has releases 3 times a year, and functionality continues to update and improve. This means that your users will have new things to learn (and perhaps need a refresher of the old) at least three times per year. You’ll have new users coming on, and they will need to be trained as well. Account for this, and give it the attention it deserves, otherwise, your users will always prioritize their day-to-day activities above it.
- Empower your users. Encourage continued learning and development around Salesforce with Trailhead. This Data Quality Module is a great place to start.
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!
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.
We’re an Austin-based Salesforce Consulting Partner, with a passion and belief that the Salesforce platform’s capabilities can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Whether you are just getting started with Salesforce or looking to realize its full potential, Roycon specializes in Salesforce Implementations, Salesforce Ongoing Support, and Salesforce Integrations, and Development. We’re the certified partner to guide the way to increase Salesforce Adoption, make strategic decisions, and build your Salesforce Roadmap for success.