Taking a Look at the Importance of Data Quality
Our industry is about people and property and bringing the two together; this is what we know and understand – ‘We are not data scientists’. Recently there has been so much focus on the importance of data, maybe it’s time we took a look at why we should care more about it specifically in our industry.
If we reverse back slightly to the good old days of the ‘card system’; registering applicants on a record card or applicant form then organising them into their high-level needs and budgets. This way we could identify quickly and easily who we need to contact when a new instruction comes onto the market, or taking down a prospective Vendor or Landlords details on a Market Appraisal form and entering it into your perfectly tuned 1-31 system…it worked and we loved it!
Time, however, has moved on and the demand for more efficient and reliable communication channels has taken off both in our personal lives and across professional industries.
The internet has revolutionised the way people search for property and as a result, estate agents have had to become ‘smarter’ in the way they differentiate themselves against their competition and engage with customers.
A quote by business management guru Philip Crosby goes: “Data quality is free. It’s not a gift, but it’s free. What costs money are the ‘unquality’ things – all the actions that involve not getting data quality right the first time and all the actions to correct these data quality issues”
So why should we be taking the time to ensure we are not spending money on ‘unquality things’? Well, according to a Forbes article there are positive and negative impacts that will affect a business of any size:
- Make Better Decisions
The better the data, the better you can forecast, spot trends, find areas to strengthen. How can you set KPIs for your business if you don’t understand its positioning in a wider context? How can you review a member of staff’s performance if you don’t allow for external factors? How can you decide how to approach a customer if there’s no history, no insight into the relationship your business has spent time cultivating?
- Improve Staff Productivity
If time and care is taken at the start, there will be no need to correct mistakes later on. Your staff can enhance the data, edit over time and use it to shape the way they interact with your customers. Because the interaction with customers is where the money is to be made, surely it is crucial to ensure you have a data entry process in place and understood across your business?
In an industry that is heavily weighted with legislation, knowing you are collecting the right data at the right time means you have less to fear with potential future issues. If you know you can provide history, a communication trail and evidence, swiftly and securely, should you ever be called upon to prove yourself or your business as covering all bases, you don’t want to suddenly find ‘unquality data’ could be your downfall.
We are all bombarded with emails these days! So, you need to make sure what you are sending people is relevant to their criteria, otherwise they will stop looking at it. And what about your marketing campaigns? If you don’t track your leads and review the stats for enquiry to deal and where that relationship originated, how can you spend money wisely on future marketing plans?
- Missed Opportunities
Let’s come back to that first interaction again, where someone is registering with you for their property search. This is where your expertise has to play a part in your data entry. I’ve heard the phrase ‘buyers are liars’ a few times in my career, and whilst it sounds harsh, the point is that quite often people end up offering on properties different to their original criteria. But this is what a good negotiator knows and does – take the details, show them what they’ve asked for, but then enhance the data. Manually match them with properties you think are worth their time. Edit the data again if it didn’t pan out. Keep tweaking, building a history. Combining your local knowledge with the power of a CRM to give the customer what they want and more! Think of it has suggesting rather than bombarding, making intelligent decisions with tech and knowledge.
- Lose Revenue
If you’re missing opportunities, not forecasting and your staff are spending time improving data instead of using it to power their selling, then it makes sense your profit potential is suffering.
- Reputation Damage
Is there anything worse than feeling like you’re not being listened to? It is well documented that “A consumer is 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one”. Combine this with the fact consumers are more likely to research your business to seek out reviews as part of their decision-making process, we all need to make use of every tool available to support our service levels. If you are logging every interaction you have with a customer, you will only ever be approaching them from a position of knowledge and understanding. If you are monitoring trends in your area then you can confidently call yourself a local expert. If someone comes back to you years later and you can pull their details out of an archive and ask how they got on with their move/purchase/buy-to-let you will sound like you care. Don’t risk receiving a bad review because you didn’t invest time in your data.
Setting a data entry process that is followed by all staff is a worthwhile task; speak with your CRM provider to make sure you’re getting the most out of the system’s capabilities when it comes to applying your chosen mandatory information.