Get a 360 view of your customers from multiple systems using Salesforce

One of the challenges for ISV or any company using multiple systems is to realizing the vision of getting a 360 view of their customers using salesforce crm. The challenge is that customer data resides in multiple software applications. For ISV, their customers register and use their product and these systems could be dotnet or java based applications. The second challenge is the same customer data can use multiple products and so the data is duplicated in multiple sql server ,oracle databases. Sales and Marketing departments struggle with keeping the customer data in sync, flush out duplicates and also trying to track which customer or segment uses their products heavily and how they can upsell or cross sell multiple products. I have done multiple salesforce implementations around this problem and here is a general approach which would work for companies struggling to achieve it.

1. Work towards creating a common database of accounts, contacts and leads.
2. Strategy for wiping bad data, identifying duplicates in all the databases.
3. Create a sync solution which would sync up accounts, contacts and leads from your external databases to salesforce.
4. Create a process to dedupe, merge and unmerge in salesforce on a regular basis.
5. Segment accounts, contacts to categorize your customer in terms of product, high value and low value.

Work towards creating a common database of accounts, contacts and leads.
Since the customer data is in mulitple databases, you would want to have a common database where the accounts, contacts from each system is consolidated and cross reference maintained across each system id. Now with this common database, it helps you to consolidate one final list of accounts and contacts. To do this, you would need to ensure when the customer is created on any system, it is also created on the common database. Old data should be migrated to the common database and merged.

2. Strategy for wiping bad data, identifying duplicates in all the databases.
Some times databases would grow with a large amount of test data used for testing, incomplete data like no email id, no phone number and it just resides for ever with no action. This results in a significant effort to merge later and so a strategy has to be done to logically delete the bad data or wipe them in all your databases.

3. Create a sync solution which would sync up accounts, contacts and leads from your external databases to salesforce.
Once the common database is in place, a synchronizing solution should be established where an account or contact created or updated in your common database should be entered in Salesforce. This can be done with real time web service integration or batch mode jobs posting data to salesforce. Now the important thing is to make sure the ids for cross reference should be made inserted in contacts and accounts on both systems for cross reference. In scenarios where there are orphan records in salesforce or external database, a manual approach of duplication, identification and merge process helps.

Create a process to dedupe, merge and unmerge in salesforce on a regular basis.
Now once the data is in salesforce, using tools like Cloudingo or demand tools helps to keep the data clean in salesforce. Cloudingo provides filters where duplication rules can be created and data in salesforce is regularly cleaned up and maintained at the highest quality. Remember that if the data in salesforce is not clean, users would tend to get back to multiple systems and this would impact adoption of salesforce heavily.

Segment accounts, contacts to categorize your customer in terms of product, high value and low value.
A strategy should be in place in salesforce where any salesforce admin or user should be able to create reports of your accounts, contacts easily and categorize them. So if you have contacts having multiple closed won opportunities and each opportunity has say multiple products, using roll ups, triggers in salesforce, fields can be updated on a contact and account level which would identify your profitable, least profitable, cross sell or upsell customers which can be used by marketing and sales team to sell effectively.

So using the above strategy, any company can work towards their vision of 360 view of their customers within a month time frame. I help in creating technical and business strategies around this area. So please feel free to post your comments and thoughts around this or contact me by posting a comment on my blog and i can help to achieve this quickly within a least amount of time.

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