Running a small business every day involves a myriad of daily decisions, from financial decisions to customer development to marketing and always growth and scale. If you take that and combine it with the fact that research estimates that people make on average 35,000 decisions per day, it’s no wonder you are exhausted. We all know the importance of measuring what matters to be more efficient in your analysis to make smarter decisions. However, today, we will step back to the foundation of your research, your data.
If you are making your decisions based on your excel spreadsheet information, are you also taking the time to clean that data? While Excel spreadsheets are simpler and easier to analyze, they can be inefficient and include more data than is needed. Also, spreadsheets can be hard to update when there are changes to items such as customers or products. In the example below, it’s important to note that repetitive products or misspelled customers can result in the exclusion of information that could be harmful to your business.
If you are trying to keep track of your customers in an excel spreadsheet, you may have many rows of data, and buried deep in the spreadsheet may be duplicate data. If you are trying to track down information and items aren’t consistent in the spreadsheet, you may not have all the data needed to make an informed decision. Let’s say that Jane Doe, for example, ordered package 5 and you documented this in your spreadsheet. However, when you entered her information, it saved as ABC. On a different occasion, Jane’s information was entered as ABC Co. Upon doing so, a new customer number was created. Now, if Jane ever calls back in or you want to send Jane some marketing materials, you may duplicate your efforts or send her the wrong promotion. This type of duplication is all too common with sales information. Either salespeople or owners are rushing to enter information and don’t look to see if they already have the information on file. If information is not exactly the same, the data in the file may not return in analysis results. Let’s say Jane is very unhappy because she is having problems with the “package” she ordered. If the rep had entered her information as ABC, a history trail would show that she ordered package 5, rather than just the generic package. If the rep knew it was package 5, a more personalized customer experience could be provided to Jane, therefore creating a more positive brand recall experience.
If your spreadsheet is getting too large where it’s hard for you to access information quickly, it may be time to evaluate customer relationship management (CRM) applications such as HubSpot, Salesforce, OnePage, or other relational database applications. These applications help create a more efficient customer database, help reduce duplication errors, and are easy to update. Bottom line: If you are using spreadsheets to capture and track customer information, make sure to set up protocols to ensure consistency in your data entry. Ensuring consistency will help you process information to help you navigate through some of those 35,000 decisions you have to make daily.