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Customer Data – Are You Gathering the Right Kind?

Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric once said, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

This statement has never been truer.

Gathering the right kind of data about your customers and prospects can really set you apart from your competition, especially if you’re a small business.

You Can’t Capture Everything

What kind of data should you be capturing? How can you make sure that you are gathering the best information to help you find the right people, at the right time, through the right channel, with the right offer?

It makes sense for companies like Google and Facebook to capture as much data as possible. After all, they’re in the business of selling data.

For small businesses, however, it’s about finding information that can help you get to know your customers and prospects better. Here are a few types of data you may be interested in capturing.

Contact Information (the Basics)

Let’s start with the simple stuff. If you keep good records, you probably have most of this information for anyone who’s ever done business with you.

We’re talking about things like first and last name, address, phone number, and email address. Contact details will give you enough information to set up individual profiles for every customer you have.

With this information alone, you can contact your customers by mail, phone, or email and you know how to address them personally. This is a great start.

Purchase/Sales Data

Now that you have some basic profiles set up for your customers, the next tier of data you want to think about is sales history. Again, most of this information can come from your invoicing or point of sale system.

Here are some data points you may want to collect:

  • Dates of purchases
  • Amounts paid
  • Items purchased
  • Discounts or promotions used on purchase
  • Frequency of purchases

This information starts to paint a better picture of your customer with regard to how they do business with you. You’ll be able to figure out who your frequent customers are and who has only purchased from you once.

You can use this to determine what sales or promotions are working and which aren’t. What percentage of people who take advantage of promotions go on to buy from you again? All of this is valuable information.

Demographic Information

All of the data covered so far is relatively easy to acquire. You can use the profiles you’ve created to cater to customers and set yourself apart from industry competitors.

The following are some of the most common demographic data points you may want to capture:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Family data (kids, pets, etc.)
  • Individual/household income
  • Occupation

With this data in hand, you can better determine the products and services your customers (and potential customers) are most interested in.

Consider creating categories of customers, or “personas,” to group people with similar demographic information. The more data you continue to collect, the clearer the picture of each customer will become.

Behavioral Data

Demographic information helps you segment your customers and prospects into personas. Behavioral data enables you to deep dive into each individual’s profile and learn more about how he or she interacts with your brand, especially online. Here are some common behavioral data points you may want to consider collecting:

  • Frequency of website visits
  • Items added to cart
  • Page views
  • Email open rates
  • Days and times most active online

Understanding the behavior of your individual customers and prospects will help you personalize the way you communicate with them. You can separate your “regulars” from your “one-off” customers, understand where someone is in the funnel, and see what kind of content leads people to purchase or walk away.

Customer Experience Feedback

All of the customer data we’ve discussed so far can be taken from sources such as your website, point of sale, email lists, loyalty programs, and contact forms.

While this information is helpful, the best way to understand how you can better serve your customers is simply to ask them. People want to have the best experience possible, and in most cases will be happy to provide you with valuable feedback that you can use to improve the way you do business.

Customer experience feedback is all about perception. The best way to gather this information is to use surveys.

From there, it’s just about asking the right questions. Here are some popular companies that can provide you with excellent customer experience feedback tools.

  • General CSAT (Customer Satisfaction)
  • ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index)
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • CES (Customer Effort Score)
  • CxPi (Customer Experience Index)

While the prospect of gathering customer data can be daunting, it’s becoming more and more important. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Start small by collecting basic contact information and purchase data. If you stick with it, you’ll be creating personalized experiences and offers for your customers in no time.

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