The best practices in collecting customer data
Customer data offers an insight into information such as customer demographics, behavior, and preferences, enabling businesses to create quality products and positive experiences that will cater to their client base. But it’s not enough for a business to collect customer data — it must collect data that is useful and relevant. Here are some of the best ways to collect useful customer data and avoid challenges.
Customer data collection offers a suite of business benefits, but there is a limit to what kind of data can be gathered. Customer privacy has become a serious concern in modern society, and there are various regulatory frameworks that ensure the protection of people’s private information. To avoid running afoul of the law, inform your customers that you will be collecting their data, and specify exactly what data you’ll be gathering.
1. Collect identifiers
Whether you’re creating an online survey or a signup form, collecting identifying information (i.e., names, date of birth, age, gender, address, etc.) is crucial. This information will form the foundation for future analysis and segmentation.
2. Track customer interactions
Define important customer interactions. For example, if you own an online store, you need to know how your customers arrived at your site, the items they clicked on, the items they added to their cart, and what they eventually purchased. Tracking each step of their buyer journey — from learning about your business to becoming a customer — will give you insights into what your customers need and want.
3. Gather behavior-related data
Don’t focus solely on customers who made a purchase. Think about what other indicators produce meaningful data. In our online store example, you might want to track how many sign up for your email newsletter, which pages they visited on your site, or how much time they spent on each page. Analyzing this information will help you determine which aspects of your efforts are most effective and which ones need improvement.
4. Automate data collection
When gathering customer data, you must minimize the risk of human error. The most effective strategy is to automate as much of the collection process as possible. Apps and tools such as online forms and optical character recognition systems feed information directly into your database and eliminate paper-centric processes that often lead to mistakes.
5. Integrate your systems
Redundancies and errors are also common when there are multiple databases managing the same information. You can prevent these issues by working with an IT provider to integrate all your apps, databases, and software solutions. This way, data collected in one database will be synced and consistent across other platforms, reducing manual data entry and, consequently, human error.
6. Consider who will view the reports
Inevitably, you’ll need to convert data into business intelligence reports. It’s a good idea to identify who will read your reports so you can highlight the most relevant insights for them. For instance, sales managers want to see quarterly sales figures, and human resources teams want to see labor costs compared to revenue.
7. Update data in real time
Companies today need up-to-the-minute data accuracy in order to stay relevant. Use business intelligence dashboards that collect, organize, and filter data at the click of a button so that you’ll never have to wait a day or more to receive critical information that can guide company decisions.
Looking for technologies that can help you optimize data collection? Call our IT consultants today. We’ll recommend best-of-breed technologies that track the information you need to grow your business.