A sensitive topic for many organizations is if their employees can be trusted with customer data available through the CRM system. As a publisher, your customer database is your most valuable asset and you need to protect it against theft, right? Therefore, in order to protect the database, you need to limit your risk exposure by not letting the sales reps have access to all customers in the database. Account information should not be shared across regions. Employees should not be able to take screen shots of the customer record in RunMags. Right?

If you said "Yes!" to the above, I'd like to ask you to reconsider an alternative route as it's likely that you have more to gain from that and at the same time you'll mitigate your risk for having sales reps walk out with your customer data.

RunMags is designed for Business Transparency

We've designed RunMags with a philosophy based on transparency. Over the years, working with many different CRMs and many different organizations, we've found that business transparency is quite important for teams to excel and that, in many ways, that transparency starts with the CRM.

We don't have enough data to figure out which is the 'cause' and which is the 'effect', but we frequently see a clear correlation between business cultures lacking transparency and disgruntled employees that seize any opportunity they get to download customer data before they quit. It would be to draw to quick conclusions, but it's almost like people make an extra effort leave with customer data if it's not readily available. Likewise, in transparent organizations, where customer data is freely shared withing the team in order to empower them to best serve their customers, that's where we normally don't see sales reps leave with customer data.

Your customer database is NOT your most valuable asset

Ever since CRM was invented, in order to drive their own sales, CRM vendors have been arguing that your customer database is your most valuable asset. It may sound like an obvious statement, but if you stop and think for a second, you'll realize how false it is for most companies who act in a competitive environment.

Is your value proposition really so bad that any idiot can replicate your sales if only they know who you clients are? If you answer 'yes' to that question, you probably need to re-engineer your publishing business :-)

Of course not! Sure, one thousand rows with companies and contacts that buy advertising from you would be a real pain to recreate should your database magically disappear, but how easy is it really for an ex sales rep to start calling those clients and talk them into advertising with another magazine?

You value proposition is based on strengths that aren't that easy to replicate. Maybe advertising in your print magazine provides awesome brand exposure, maybe your business model allow you to offer the most cost effective means to reach a specific segment, maybe you're really great at delivering qualified leads. As long as your customer database and the words 'Big Data' aren't frequently used in the same sentence, your customer database is not your most valuable asset.

The upside of letting information flow freely

What are then the benefits from running a transparent business where customer data is shared among the sales reps?

  1. Transparency drives employee engagement and reduce the risk of employees that actively try to harm the company
  2. Employees can stay in the know, collaborate, and deliver an awesome customer experience
  3. You can focus your efforts on selling rather than guarding data

Empower your employees to do their job and help each other serve your customers. Chances are that they are good people who just want to do their job well. If your company culture is not transparent, change it. If your employees constantly are out to harm you, replace them.

Weeding out issues when employees don't follow process

With the above said, employees do make mistakes. We all do. To catch these mistakes and train the employees who make them, you need information from RunMags.

That's why you will frequently see forms displaying time stamps on the latest changes and who made them. For example, to see the latest change on a customer record, see this screenshot:

If there is one employee who continuously switches out a colleague in favor of themselves as account manager (i.e. stealing accounts), you can quickly see who that is and coach them to the right behavior.

In addition, if you want to investigate if this behavior is a one-time-event or a systematic thing, you can always check the employee's change log, see screenshot below:

Using these tools you can coach employees to do the right thing rather than implementing software governed rules on who can change data and when. The bureaucratic downside of locking up data and restricting access is greatly outweighed by the benefits of transparency. 

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