One of the services I provide for clients is data entry – managing customer records and processing orders well is a key part of a successful direct sales program. Recently, a client attended an out-of-state event that resulted in many orders – these orders came in hard copy form (the use of an iPad for orders in such a setting can be inefficient, especially if everyone want to place an order or leave at the same time – you need to capture the order while you can and paper order forms worked well in this particular environment) and the data entry began. Data is one of those things that is tedious but crucial – whether it is the correct spelling of the customer’s name or the proper punctuation in a company address, it is easy to destroy a good database without proper entry or management.
If you are converting a database or starting one from scratch, it is important to identify your goals before you start.
- What fields are you going to need?
- What platforms are you currently using to reach your audience?
- Which other platforms are you considering using in the future?
- What customer types will you use?
Although you can’t anticipate all factors at the outset, it is important to choose a program that is flexible and modifiable without affecting previous data.
Make sure you have the proper procedures outlined and database access in place for your staff. The more people you have “managing” the data, the larger the margin of error will occur and potential damage of what you have put in place. If you have more than one person responsible for data entry (not recommended), make sure the guidelines are clear and concise in order to maintain consistency.
You may have an online mailing list signup that goes directly into your system. Yes, I monitor those digital signups closely as well. Many people will not use proper capitalization or will have spelling errors, so in order to keep the database clean, I make appropriate changes.
Database management needs to be an integral part of your direct sales program – with the proper tools in place, you can provide excellent communication and outstanding customer service.