How to make the most of your data
The news seems to be littered with stories about data abuse or GDPR regulation. We’ve had Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Hacking, Data thefts, Cyber warfare. On the other hand we have regulation, opt in and updated privacy policies requests filling our inboxes. Information and what we do with it can be very powerful and it always has been. These examples further validate the importance, impact and power of data. These nefarious activities are, generally speaking, about exploitation of other peoples data and whilst I am not suggesting that this might relate to anything you want your business involved in, it does demonstrate its value….. Thinking positively, how should you make the most of your customer data?
Turning our attention to the less shady side of data collection, here’s 7 ideas as to how you can ensure that you are making the most of your customer data:
- Personalize your customer engagement and their experience
The key to building a robust and sticky relationship is to know and understand your customer, what they want, what they need, how they operate and how they wish to engage with you. The more you know about your customers the more informed you are and the greater your opportunity to personalize your approach to each of them.
GDPR shouldn’t be the only catalyst for change…Consider how you feel when you receive a letter or communication that is wrongly addressed or includes irrelevant content, despite you already being a supposedly valued customer of that company. By building a single database with contribution from every department in the business you will build up a comprehensive picture of your customers, enabling you to ensure that any interaction is tailored specifically to them, therefore maximizing your chance of a successful outcome.
Common sense really.
- Tailor your offering, products and services
Knowing and understanding your customer will allow you to build a portfolio of products and services along with the knowledge as to who best to market these to and how best to market them. It’s all too easy to put the products and services first, but without understanding your customers and target customers you may find that your offerings don’t suit your market.
We can also look at customer data to inform decisions on new products and services, perhaps comparing demographic data with products and purchase methods. Understanding your customer base can provide valuable insight into the decision making process they will go through before making a purchase, what influences this and how you leverage this information in the products and services you provide.
- Ask for feedback
Getting feedback from your customers is hugely important and will help you understand how they feel about your products and services, allow you to tailor your offerings to suit, leading to repeat business and exponential new business. Allowing customers to feed into product ideas and developments will make them feel like you care and value their input. It’s also likely to follow that the customers that take the time to feedback about new product ideas or enhancements are the ones that are likely to pay for them when available.
It’s also worth considering where feedback may come from. It’s possible that you’ll receive it directly, it’s also possible that it may come through social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook so make sure that you are monitoring these channels and responding accordingly to all forms of feedback; the speed and way you respond, especially to complaints will have a major impact on customer loyalty.
- Improve Marketing
Understanding your customers and how to reach them is critical to your marketing success. Any marketing campaign, regardless of channel, relies on relevant and targeted messaging that people immediately engage with. Constructing this message demands that you know your customer and what they want to hear. Distributing this message demands that you understand the landscape they reside in and what medium they are most likely to respond to i.e. Digital, Print, TV/Radio, Mobile or Direct. Clearly not all customers are the same so it’s likely you will need a variety of campaigns and mediums. Ongoing analysis of campaigns, feedback and purchasing habits will inform marketing decisions and help to refine future strategies making the targeting more and more effective over time.
- New products and sticky customers
Whatever the product or service, most of us are in business to provide for and support our customers. Obviously, this is a means to an end; the end being the overall profitability of the business – few of us are here for the love of it. So, in order to maintain and grow profits we need to either sell more, increase margins or both.
It’s widely accepted that it is more cost effective (in some case 4-6 times) to retain existing customers than acquire new. So, whilst all businesses need new customers, it’s important, and arguably more profitable, to make the most of the ones you’ve already got. The more you know about your customers the greater your chance of developing products that they will purchase, generating new revenues and increase customer loyalty.
- Improve customer service
Understanding your customer and their needs allows you to target how you provide support services to them. Knowing their preferred method of engagement will allow you to tailor your support services to these channels and ensure that responses are optimised – there’s no point in having a room full of people waiting for the phone to ring if all your customers are emailing or contacting you on Social Media. Equally it stands to reason that if your customer prefers the phone, make it quick and easy for them to speak to someone and ensure there are enough people available to pick up when it does ring.
Accurate customer data will also give you an insight into their history with the company and allow you to demonstrate the value of that customer when they do contact you – what products have they purchased, how many times do they phone for support, is there a recurring issue etc. How impressed would you be if you phoned a company with a customer services issue and you were greeted with ‘Hello Roger, thank you for calling. I see you’ve been a customer of ours since 2007, last time you called it was about product X, are you still having difficulties?’. Not only are you likely to be extremely impressed, it’s also likely to disarm you and make you far less frustrated about any problem or issue.
- Customer stories
Collating data about your customers and their experiences gives you the opportunity to understand their experiences better and promote these in marketing media, websites and through social media. It also allows you to target similar demographics with these stories; after all, what works for one customer will surely work for another similar customer.
So, this is all very good and no doubt there’s elements of teaching Granny to suck eggs. However, it’s always worth revisiting these things just to remind ourselves. The key to all of this is obviously data: Where does it come from? How do you receive it? Where do you store it? How do you access it? Please please, don’t rely on Excel! If you are, please call me so that we can save you and set you up on the right track. Invest in a secure database and remember you don’t have to go mad and spend a fortune. Focus on the stuff that delivers the most value and get the biggest bang for your buck. You can always build from there….