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As businesses go through the most transformational change in a generation, data expert Claire Brewerton warns that using and cleansing your business data is more important than ever.

“Most companies have CRM systems these days,” Claire, who runs Wiltshire-based Virtual Business Centre said.

“That data is incredibly important to engage with customers and now has to be carefully managed to comply with the law. After all, to run a successful business, customer relationship management is something you need to get right. It amazes me even after more than 20 years how lax some companies are when it comes to this valuable company resource.”

Claire is calling on company owners to consider how they much data they have in their business and, once compliant, are they using it correctly for growth?

“The digital space has become even more important for any business during lockdown and beyond,” Claire said.

“Understanding and managing your data and making it work hard for you is critical to survival and to growth.

“If customers are the most important part of your business, then a database should be at the heart of your growth plans in 2020 and 2021.”

There were 5.8 million small businesses at the start of 2019, which was an increase in 3.5% from the previous year. Sadly, due to the pandemic, an estimated 76,300 small and medium-sized businesses have closed for good, and that’s in London alone. Those figures will rise substantially. For those companies that survive, the digital part of their business will become even more critical. 

Here are three areas, according to Claire, where companies are lax when it comes to managing their data: 

Data erosion – this is stored data which is out of date, or irrelevant for sales and marketing purposes.

Dirty data – this is irrelevant data for whatever reason: companies move or go bankrupt; email conventions change; phones are lost; people move, or data has been entered incorrectly, or incompletely. Around 60% of companies rate the overall health of their data as unreliable and the average data base is 25% inaccurate at any given time.

Data discovery – the process of finding replacements for previous contacts and growing your CRM database once the irrelevant data has been removed.

Claire, who runs a team of 25, works with companies all across the UK and offers data cleansing services which include straightforward updates, checking existing records, and updating contact details. 

She has some top tips for data cleansing: 

1. Data cleansing begins at point of entry. By ensuring data is entered correctly to begin with, be diligent and accurate.

2. It is estimated that 30% of data is out of date within 12 months, which means it is worth adding the cost of data cleansing to a marketing budget.

3. Concentrate on data that has not been contacted recently, or has not responded.

4. Emails can be checked to see if they are still ‘active’. This gives information to know which data may need attention. 

5. Check on new job titles, or moves to new companies, by viewing LinkedIn profiles. 

6. In addition to being a legal requirement, checking B2B data against the CTPS (Corporate Telephone Preference Service) register makes good sense. 

Claire and her team provide services including telephone answering, intelligent telemarketing, outsourced customer service department, live chat, marketing via text service and email inbox management. They offer cover seven days a week from 8am to 11pm at night, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm at weekends and only close over the Easter weekend & Christmas. 

Their clients include high end shoe manufacturer Eves & Gray London, Aqueos which offers equine and dog products; Herbs on the Hill offering herb-based natural skin care products. To find out more visit https://www.virtualbusinesscentre.com.

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