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How companies can improve their customer service approach through data

In customer service, the ideal that many professionals strive for is the mythical "360-degree view" of every consumer. They want to understand each individual perfectly, from every angle - including their spending habits, their technology use and their preferred means of communicating, among other elements.

As companies grow larger and they take on more and more clients, there's a growing belief that data quality is the key to this all-encompassing "view." The more information that businesses can collect about their customers, the better understanding they'll have, which is why they often rely on complex customer relationship management software for governing all of that data.

Relying on CRM, however, is not a foolproof process. Companies often encounter numerous hiccups in the information management as they attempt to put information into, and extract it from, their CRM systems. Technical malfunction and human error are both risks that business leaders need to be aware of.

According to IT Business Edge, this is especially problematic for retail companies who seek to align multiple channels of customer data - for example, marketing and sales data collected in stores, over the phone and online. Considering all of these disparate sources of information, it can be difficult to bring everything together effectively.

The news source noted that according to recent research, most businesses struggle in this area. According to an October survey released by Scribe Software, only 16 percent of companies support full integration between their CRM and other business systems. The company also found that 35 percent of companies handle CRM integration by manually re-entering data from system to system.

According to data quality expert Loraine Lawson, this can be a nightmare.

"One caveat," Lawson stated, according to IT Business Edge. "Integrating everything with CRM sounds like a brilliant idea, but it's not entirely risk-free. For instance, if you integrate three databases and have poor data quality practices, you will irritate me. That's the exact opposite of the original goal: a better customer experience."

Companies must be aware of the importance of data quality throughout the process of deploying CRM data. There can be no room for laziness or misunderstanding about quality issues. Businesses that rely on bulk customer information should try to avoid transcribing it by hand, which can be problematic - but if they must, their employees must handle such data with the greatest of care to steer clear of potential mistakes.

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