Your customer database is without a doubt one of the most valuable resources within your business. Today’s enquiry could be tomorrow’s landlord, first home buyer or up-grader, after all. So, if you capture the details of that enquiry and add it to your database, you are starting the journey that could turn them into a life-long customer.
But, your customer database is only as good as the quality of the data within it, and it is vital to capture data correctly and to put systems and processes in place to make sure that data is updated regularly.
Customer data deteriorates very quickly. People move, they change jobs and email addresses, they get married and change their names. Failing to maintain the health of your database can quickly start to cost your business money and clients. A well-maintained database on the other hand will help you keep your business communications relevant, timely and valuable. It will also help you nurture customer relationships over time.
So to help you keep on top of your database, here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your business processes.
#1. Capture your data correctly
If your data starts off clean, you have a better chance of keeping it clean. Make sure when you’re capturing your customer’s details that the details are all accurate and everything is spelt correctly.
You can also set up an email validation tool to help you make sure email addresses are correct. You can also incentivise customers to give you the right data by offering them something valuable in return (like the content they may want).
Correctly captured data gives you a solid foundation for your database and means you then just need to keep on top of any changes there on out.
#2. Conduct regular data audits
Set up a process for checking your data regularly. Whether that’s 5 customer touches a day, or a full fortnightly or monthly audit – whatever works for you and the size of your customer database.
You may even want to create a dedicated resource in your office to do this for everyone so that you know it is being done regularly. By keeping a consistent eye on the quality of your data, you can do little things along the way to collect and keep information up to date. Doing this, rather than leaving it too long and having to invest in a larger program of work to update your database.
#3. Contact your database often
The more you keep in touch with your contacts, the less chance there is of them going cold. If you’re in touch frequently, you can ask questions (and make any required updates in your database right away), and invite your clients to let you know when their circumstances change.
#4. Use data-cleansing software
You can buy this yourself, or hire a company to do this for you. Data-cleansing software can help you clean, correct and remove duplicates from your database. It can also highlight any errors, standardise your data formatting and validate email addresses.
If you have a large database to maintain, this tool can save you heaps of time, because the other options are all manual.
#5. Let customers make updates
If you give your customers the opportunity to update the contact details of their own accord, it takes some of the manual work off of your plate.
You can do this in a few ways. Include a link in your email that directs them to an online portal to update their contact details; send out a survey that has an incentive at the end of it to include contact details. Or, send them a letter asking them to get in touch if any of their details have changed. Then you just have to match it up to your database and make any changes needed.
A few other tips:
Here are a few other hand tips and tricks to keep your database clean:
- Check your customer’s data against their email signatures.
- Monitor your communications to customers for any responses, bounce-backs or error messages and make updates to your database accordingly.
- Use your customer relationship management (CRM) tool to tag clients as “To Review”. Use this as a prompt to get in touch with them and check their details.
- Spot check your data by sorting the list for empty fields.
- When you call a client for any reason, just ask them if their details are still the same while you have them on the call.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy database, consistency is key. Doing little things as part of your regular day-to-day tasks will help you keep your customer information up-to-date. Looking at it daily will ensure it doesn’t become a massive task.
What happens if your details change?
If your contact details change for any reason, or if you move to a new agency or place of business, it is also important that you let your customers know your change of details too.
If you’re staying with the same agency, but your contact details have changed, just send out a cursory email or letter to your database to let them know the new details. A personalised email or letter, or a phone call, is appreciated by customers and will help further build your relationship with them.
If you’re leaving to go to a new agency or place of business, reaching out to your clients before you go can be seen as poaching. The professional thing to do is to wait until you have left and then either call or email your previous clients to let them know you have left, and provide them with your new contact details.
Keeping your database up to date is an ongoing process. But, if you keep your data quality in front of mind and update it regularly, it will easily become part of your normal business processes and won’t seem like a massive task. You’ll also quickly start to see the benefits it has on the efficiency of your business. It’s much easier to send out an invoice when you have the correct details to send it to, and on the quality of your customer relationships.
If you’re overwhelmed by the task of developing and maintaining a database, Console provides simple and easy-to-use software features that allow you to keep connected with your customers. ClientManager helps you manage your contacts in a purpose-built real estate CRM tool, with email and SMS tools that help you easily keep your data up to date.