How Long Should CRM Systems Keep Customer History?

How Long Should CRM Systems Keep Customer History?

While I’m not an expert in CRM Systems, I am a customer. I know that technology helps keep track of my previous purchases and contact information. So, when the sales associate informs me my history is gone I always feel irrelevant.  That message communicates that I am not considered a customer by the company. Additionally, it is frustrating to recreate my data.  Not the experience that any company wants to promote.

My wife and I had bought some pillows from Macy’s about three years ago.  We decided we wanted to buy two more. Easy. We called Rochelle, our salesperson (I have written about her in a previous blog). Not only did she have all our information regarding shipping but also had a record of the specific styles and colors we had purchased.  She had immediate access to the inventory and current prices.  Rochelle told us that our particular pillow was being discontinued but there were four left in stock that could be shipped the following day.  Maybe we wanted them all because we liked the pillows so much.  A great idea.  Macy’s doubled the sale and we were happy.

People move, change emails and cell numbers, perhaps even their buying preferences and it is necessary to update the CRM system.  That should automatically be part of the sales process.  Updating is easier than re-entering all the data. It is a demonstration to the person they are still a customer and important.

How long should a company maintain account data and detailed buying history?  This is a crucial question.  Retail is amorphous; a shopper may not return to a store or website for a long period.  Maybe it is a jewelry establishment where a person only shops for special occasions or a boutique ladies or men’s shop that you think of after opening the invitation to a wedding.  You’ve shopped there before and consider yourself a customer, but if the business no longer has you in their system, you might think twice about purchasing again.

My wife bought an evening gown from a small store and the dress had to be re-altered after she wore it to the party.  We were going away on vacation and she didn’t need the outfit immediately.  When she did go to pick it up, her salesperson greeted her with, “I’m glad you came today.  I was just ready to delete your name from my records.”  Although it was a good experience initially, that comment was an automatic turnoff.  She would never shop there again.  The potential for future business was tossed out the window with the delete button. Why wouldn’t there be the thought that there might be another party, wedding, or other occasion where former customers would return.

Information is golden and needs to be treated with respect.  There are confidentiality and privacy concerns.  Keeping data longer may be another budget item but purging customer history puts your business in jeopardy.  It is an integral part of lifetime loyalty.

How do you feel when a business tells you your purchases were made too long ago for them to have a record?

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