We've all heard about the cobbler's kids, and their lack of new shoes. In the world of data services, the cobbler's kids are alive and kicking.
There's a company called ZoomInfo that offers a very good data service product. I know this, because I was a happy customer about 18 months ago. Earlier this year, I no longer needed the service, so I ended the contract. I haven't been a customer of ZoomInfo for at least six months. Good product, and great people, but I no longer had a need.
Now remember, these guys collect, manage and sell data for a living. And according to the "About" page on their website, "ZoomInfo is the only business information provider with continuously updated, multi-sourced, highly relevant business information and unrivalled tools to quickly pinpoint contacts and accelerate success." In other words, they're really good at what they do. Unless, like the cobbler, it's for their own consumption.
I received an email this morning from Zoominfo, reminding me of an upcoming training session. Their own internal customer database must think that I'm still a customer. From my perspective as the recipient of the message, something ain't right. And I suspect this scenario is not limited to Zoominfo and me.
Lots of companies say the wrong things to the wrong people, because they say it through dirty data.
So, what are three things you can do, to make sure that your data doesn't cause you to send the wrong message?
First, assign a data czar.
Make one person accountable; one person who will be ultimately responsible for the cleanliness, accuracy and currency of your customer data. The data czar may delegate sub-responsibilities to her sales data, marketing data, and customer support data ministers, but the czar must be ultimately responsible. The buck stops with the data czar.
Second, schedule regular data auditing and reporting.
The financial people religiously produce quarterly financial statements. The inventory people count the inventory at least once a year, remove obsolete stock to establish an optimal inventory balance. Likewise, the data czar should establish and stick to a schedule for monitoring, managing and reporting on the state the data. And do so, religiously.
Third, establish, publish and enforce data standards.
With no laws, and no law enforcement, you have anarchy. In collaboration with the end users of the CRM system, the Data Czar should establish rules for data entry; rules that will result in complete and accurate records. (Find out what features are available in your CRM system to automate much of the enforcement.) Once the rules are established, publish them, and communicate them to all users, and reinforce with periodic reminders. Finally, conduct frequent spot checks of the data for accuracy, and track the results over time. Know if the accuracty of the data is improving - or not.
If dirty data can cause a data vendor to send the wrong messages to the wrong people, it can certainly happen to the rest of us. So, why not make a New Year's Resolution to clean up your customer data, and to keep it clean through 2011 and beyond?
What do you think?
Thanks to John Borthwick for the spot-on sign!