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Best Practices for Inspired Retail Marketing

Capturing Better Data

Every time I shop, whether it’s in-store or online, I expect to be actively encouraged to shop again – to be asked for my contact info, whether I have or want a loyalty card, and whether or not my experience met my expectations. I’m sure you’re in the same position. After all, as CRM professionals, we know that customer data capture and engagement is the lifeblood of CRM, and that CRM is now, for so many retailers, an essential competitive tool.

What really surprises me, therefore, is when I’m not asked for my information at the point of service. This happened just last weekend at my local mall, where I loaded up on sale-priced shirts at a major national retailer I don’t normally shop with. I chose, I paid, and I left – nothing more. And as soon as I did, I remember thinking, “Wow, they really missed the boat.” I was actually fairly impressed with their merchandise and bargains, but they completely ignored the chance to reinforce and leverage that impression as future business – or to even contact me with a promotion that might bring me back.

These days, a retailer who fails to capture any customer data is by far the exception, not the rule. But just as much damage can be done when a retailer captures incorrect or incomplete information, or when they mishandle otherwise good information after the fact. And that happens far more often that most of us would like to admit – in spite of the fact that we now have so many different tools to connect with our customers, and that we’re continually exposed to improved techniques, infrastructure, and media.
Retail CRM
Your data may seem great, but take a closer look!
Five Steps Forward, No Steps Back

What can you do to stay focused on collection – not correction and all the problems that result? Here are five key steps that will help you capture better data and achieve stronger marketing results.
1. Review Your Processes

It’s never enough to just collect data; that information has to be validated before it gets into (or otherwise infects!) your CRM system, and all the other systems it interacts with it. Establish your base metrics with the data’s end-use in mind, and be sure to distinguish between poor data and good data. Qualifying data-quality is an analytical process involving objective reviews through quantitative measures. Then review your current practices and specify improvements, along with ways to ensure they are adopted consistently.

2. Audit Existing Data

Take a close look at what’s already in your system. In particular, evaluate whether your customer database is large enough, whether the contact data is sufficiently complete and, most importantly, whether that data is sufficiently accurate. If you fall short in any of these areas, investigate until you understand the root of the problem(s) and can specify solutions. And again, ensure that those solutions are adopted rigorously and monitored for compliance.  I have seen firsthand the importance of having a compliance monitoring program. Amazingly, in less than a year, the quality of the data captured at one of my clients improved from less than 50% to almost 90%. You could be that retailer too!

3. Examine Your Data Collection Points

How your data is being captured can of course have a huge impact on what you are able to capture and what value it can provide. Check your forms – make sure they are easy to use and provide only the data you really need. A form that requires work is a form that won’t work! It’s also important to standardize your forms so the same information will be collected from your website and stores.

4. Train and Motivate Your Staff

Everyone on your staff needs to understand the importance of capturing accurate and complete customer information. They need to know its value to your company and their responsibilities to help deliver that value. Document and teach proper collection methods as well as the costs and consequences of not following them. Get directives from the top down if necessary, to let your staff know this is important to and expected by the executive team. Motivate your staff with incentives for doing it right, including recognition, contests and rewards, and support those efforts with regular monitoring and reporting.

5. Develop a Go-forward Strategy

Develop strategies to resolve existing problems and to prevent future ones. It is much more cost effective to prevent problems from happening in the first place than to correct them after the fact. Toward this end: Create a plan to reduce the need for data cleansing; define and implement an ongoing data quality process; set targets and tollgates; validate data periodically by comparing your results with established metrics; and compare and rank performance among stores and associates using CRM Data Quality Reports.

Value – For You and Your Business

If you follow these steps consistently, you’ll rest assured that the customers who visit your store or website won’t ever share my recent experience at the mall. They won’t miss an opportunity to gain savings, promotions and rewards and, more importantly, you won’t miss the chance to turn a first-time or sometime shopper into a higher-value customer for life!

Watch for our next blog on “Effective Data Quality Control Procedures."

Maria Elena Duran
CRM Services



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