How to store customer data

The information you hold about your customers is one of your most valuable assets, and recently introduced GDPR regulations have focused on how we secure and protect this data. There are plenty of CRM systems out there vying for our attention, and while many of these are great, you may or may not benefit from using one.

How to store customer data

There are lots of perfectly valid ways to hold information, including:

Paper (or usually card index) records. Northing wrong with that, if they are well filed and if most of your customer contact is face to face. Many hairdressers, salons and even vets still use card records, and while there are valid arguments for some to be digitised, there are few reasons why a hairdresser would need to look up on a computer what colour hair dye was applied last time you went to get your roots done.

Pro:

  • If you offer a service delivered face to face, and if you don’t often need to contact customers between appointments.
  • Details can be looked up easily and not dependent on the computer having a bad day
  • Easy to use for all your staff, even those not comfortable with computers

Con:

  • Without digital records, it’s harder to communicate with customers. Be that appointment reminders, changes, or upsells, everything has to be done either by telephone or face to face.
  • Paper records are more at risk from adverse events like fire and flood – and back-up copies are rarely held.

Simple spreadsheets are a perfectly viable way to hold data for a business that does all its transactions in one place and handled by a very small number of employees.

Pro:

  • Digital records are easy to access and use for marketing or other purposes
  • Spreadsheets are easy to back-up reducing risk from data loss
  • Enable segmentation and reasonably easy analysis by segment

Con:

  • The risk of data loss through hacking must always be considered
  • Spreadsheets can become cumbersome when too much data is held on each record, or you have a large number of records

Cloud based CRM systems are everywhere you look online now. Some of them are truly excellent systems offering great value for money, including Zoho, Hubspot, Insightly and Nutshell. If your plan is for your business to grow, you should be considering a CRM system to help you hold and manipulate customer data effectively as you grow.

Pro:

  • A good cloud based CRM system will allow you to automate certain processes
  • Perfect for a growing business where more and more people need to be able to access information at the same time.
  • You can access your data from anywhere in the world
  • You can grant different levels of access to different members of staff
  • Excellent support for targeting marketing campaigns
  • You can analyse your data, every marketing campaign and every sales effort with ease, these systems provide amazing management information, helping you improve how you manage your business and the return you get on investment in sales and marketing.

Con:

  • These systems take a while to set up and it’s rarely just as simple as importing your contacts from a spreadsheet. To get the best value for your investment, you have to be prepared to put in the work to design your processes before you start.

If you’d like to talk through the different options and their relevance for your business, just get in touch, we will be happy to run through your options with you.