As a businessperson, you may sometimes wish that you could read your customers’ minds. With all the advances in digital technology, that’s still beyond reach. However, you can collect enough data from customers to help you predict what they might need later — and a crystal ball is almost as useful as mindreading.
What Data Should Be Collected?
First, decide what data you need to sell or design a product centered around your customer base. Use the information available and build on that as a guide. If you have a lot of customer data, you can easily feel overwhelmed. This is actually a good problem to have. It lets you pick and choose what’s important to your market research.
Once you know what’s important, investigate the source of the information to determine if it’s reliable and if you can count on it in the future. Don’t keep collecting data that isn’t needed. This fatigues the customers and could scare them away. Even if there are pieces of the puzzle missing you may need to be happy with what you’ve got.
Make a wishlist of details that you still want to get. Investigate whether you can get in from another in-house source. Does the CRM, finance or contact management, finance system have these important details? What about the paper invoices?
If you outsource your data management, your professional IT team can show you how to mine the data within the databases you already have. They can even collect the information you have into a customer data warehouse, where you’ll have access to all your customer information.
Identify New Data Capture Points
After this process, you should know what details are missing. Next, identify a point in the contact flow where this can be collected, perhaps in the sales process or sign-up.
You may be surprised how many touch-points you have to gather additional information. Use these opportunities selectively. For instance, on a yearly statement, you can ask the customer to re-enter their mobile phone number and email to ensure you have reliable contact information.
Collecting data about your customers can overwhelm your existing database structure, so innovation is important. This is another area where it’s a good idea to seek the opinion of outsourced experts.
According to the database experts at Altibase, “In today’s rapidly changing IT environment, businesses must keep on top of technology trends in order to gain or retain competitive advantages. One of the most promising new trends in IT today is the utilization of in-memory capabilities.”