Many CRM applications have the concepts of leads, accounts and contacts for registering customers or other parties with roles in sales and customer service.
Most CRM systems have a data model suited for business-to-business (B2B) operations. In a B2B environment:
- A lead is someone who might become your customer some day
- An account is a legal entity who has or seems to become your customer
- A contact is a person that works at or in other ways represent an account
In business-to-consumer (B2C) environments there are different ways of making that model work.
The general perception is that data about a lead can be so and so while it of course is important to have optimal data quality for accounts and contacts.
However, this approach works against the essential data quality rule of getting things right the first time.
Converting a lead into an account and/or a contact is a basic CRM process and the data quality pitfalls in that process are many. To name a few:
- Is the lead a new account or did we already have that account in the database?
- Is the contact new or did we know that person maybe at another account?
- How do we align the known data about the lead with external reference data during the conversion process?
In other words, the promise of having a 360-degree customer view is jeopardized by the concept of most CRM systems.