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Three benefits of a good data governance policy

14th Dec 2017
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Data is an increasingly important asset for both salespeople and marketers. However, many businesses still believe that the official collection, storage and governance of important customer and company information is the sole responsibility of the IT department.

This outdated approach to managing data is bad for business in more ways than one. What invariably happens is that each department gathers its own information and keeps it trapped in stuffy (and often incomprehensible) spreadsheets saved on desktops, or within disparate databases. Individual salespeople will commonly build their own contact lists and keep them hidden from the wider team.

These various obstacles to achieving a comprehensive and strictly enforced data governance policy prevent a business from fast-tracking its growth, achieving a culture of agile working, and delivering an exceptional customer experience. The best way to avoid them is to implement a clear set of policies for collecting, storing, managing and removing data.

Ideally, these policies should be followed by every department that has contact with customers in some shape or form. Data management is no longer just an ‘IT thing’ – it needs to include sales and marketing, as well as HR, finance, customer service and operations.

With the right technology onside, a clearly-defined data governance policy confers the following three business benefits.

  1. Fewer data silos

A unified data management system or customer relationship management (CRM) system unites all company and customer information in one centralised location. This eliminates the need for individual databases and spreadsheets, and makes data more readily accessible for company-wide use.

When information is shared across an organisation, and is accessible to all employees regardless of their roles or responsibilities, that organisation can be far more responsive. If sales can access relevant information about marketing’s leads, they’ll find those leads far easier to convert. If customer service knows what was sold and why, they’ll be in a much stronger position to appease an irate customer. 

A centralised data management tool like a CRM or ERP system, also prevents the duplication and misuse of data. With all information managed via a central system, each step of customer engagement is recorded. Sales and marketing teams can track who has received what, how they responded and move them along the sales funnel accordingly.

  1. Better collaboration

In the same way that the IT team is no longer solely responsible for data and using data-driven technology, sales and marketing teams are no longer solely accountable for the customer experience. This is because customers have more potential touchpoints with a company than ever before: through face-to-face meetings, through a website or mobile app, and through social media to name just a few. Every employee that encounters customers in some way is gathering important insights.

And, in today’s customer-centric world, it’s important that these customer insights are shared laterally across the business. Information generated by the sales and marketing teams may be of immense value to the IT team. It could, for example, reveal how to improve different elements of the user experience on the website. This, in turn, could potentially improve the number of conversions or purchases.

In much the same way, IT teams can use their specialist data knowledge to help their sales and marketing colleagues. They can, for example, help them create data visualisations to illustrate key market trends and identify recurring customer patterns.

Of course, this enhanced collaboration and efficiency depends on data management being treated as a shared responsibility. Everyone in your organisation should be responsible for keeping records and information up-to-date.

  1. Fresher data

When data management is a shared responsibility, it encourages regular information cleansing. This ensures that old, irrelevant data is deleted and new data is consistently captured. In today’s digital age, your personalised sales and marketing campaigns depend on access to accurate customer and company data.

The volume of available data is growing daily. It’s all too easy for errors or inaccuracies to creep in and devalue your database. However, clean, up-to-date data can be the fuel for on-point business analytics and intelligence, which leads to better, more informed decision-making.  

Clean and correct data also boosts customer retention and acquisition efforts. Your marketing campaigns hit home with greater success and deliver far better returns. You know exactly where each prospect, customer or lead is in the sales funnel at all times, and can tailor your communications to target them with the right offers at the right time through the right channels.

Implementing an inhouse data management policy can have a positive impact on your business revenue, reputation and culture. When responsibility for the company’s data is shared, and supported by a good CRM system, you can reach and respond to customers quickly – and hit your growth targets on time.

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