19/08/2016 - Posted by Emily Healey
Doing business in the digital age means embracing what technology can do better than humans. While you and your employees may be able to offer customers a personal touch, a software system with data collection and powerful analytics can help you understand them on a much deeper level. Data refers to all the abstract information about your customers, from frequency of visits to favourite products, and a whole lot more. Analytics, on the other hand, recognises this information and puts it all together to give you a clear picture about not only that customer but their place amongst all the others as well.
When obtaining data you should make sure you’re using the right software for your business and be as consistent as possible in how you use it. Customer records need to be comprehensive and up to date in order to be effective. If you have gaps in your data the results you end up with may be flawed without you ever realising it. The best way to tackle this is by thoroughly training your staff to correctly use the software and letting them know why it’s so important to do so. If you don’t do this, it can become a huge problem when you start making business decisions based on the results.
A big part of getting the right data is asking the right questions. When working out questions to ask your customers or pieces of information that should be recorded you need to think backwards. Think about what you want the information to tell you and then break it up into the contributing factors that will give you your answer. If you’re using off-the-shelf software you will be limited by what you can change but they usually have you fairly covered if you choose carefully. Regardless, thinking about these things early on can also make understanding the results you find much easier.
If everything has gone correctly you should end up with a whole lot of data that can be mapped, explained and analysed to help you understand the results. It can take time to get used to reading these results and it will also depend on the quality of the software system you are using but the information should be there. If you are struggling to understand it there may be someone else within your organisation better equipped to translate and if you still can’t get to the bottom of it all, go to the source and contact the team or company who built it for guidance.
Although software can tell you a lot about your customers and how they fit into your business, it is up to you to take action. You can’t have analytics without data and the same goes for analytics and action, and then some. Gathering analytics without taking action is a complete waste of resources but taking action without the insight that only analytics can give you is a bigger, and much riskier mistake. Data and analytics aren’t something to be feared, they are simply tools at your disposal to help you make more informed business decisions and better serve your customers in ways they truly want.