Data may sound dry, but the information you have on your customers is your most precious asset: it’s time to stop storing data, and start using it.

Know thy customer

By taking the time to get to know your customers, you can better identify the trends that affect their decisions. For instance, I’m a supermarket shopper, but the real end user for a lot of my purchases is my environmentally-conscious teenage daughter. When we work our way around the shop, she’ll be throwing items out of the trolley if she disagrees with the packaging or key ingredients. Pasta wrapped in plastic and not cardboard? Gone. Anything with palm oil? No thank you! Businesses are going to have to innovate if they want to keep the business of these emerging end-users.

This is why getting to grips with your data is so important – those who understand their customer data (and gain accurate insights into what the market wants) are in a powerful position. You already have this precious commodity in your possession; your existing customer data.

Ditch the spreadsheet

Many businesses start their sales efforts with a simple list. Often, this is a spreadsheet containing names, contact details and maybe space for a date when the customer was last spoken to. It’s a straightforward method, but it’s not a sustainable approach in the long-term.

In every old sales spreadsheet, there are bound to be a few hidden nuggets of gold that could transform a business, if only its owners knew about them. A lead that’s been unforgivably ignored, a conversation that wasn’t fulfilled, a call back that wasn’t made. The data on spreadsheets is incomplete and only really meaningful to those who added it. But, as the days pass by, memories fade, employees move on and opportunities are lost.

     

    Many businesses also have active accounts that could be worked far more profitably if only they explored the available options. When a customer has bought from you once, they are many times more likely than a new prospect to buy from you again. People buy from people – but only from people who get in touch and ask for the business.

    Many businesses have silos of data held by different departments. The first step towards oiling your customer data engine is to consolidate this into one master set. For most organisations, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, is a good starting point. CRM provides a central place to store your customer and prospect data, track customer interactions, and share those insights with colleagues.

     

    Get personal

    Once your data is consolidated, the next stage is to leverage data analytics tools, which can be used by even your least-technical team members to drill down into your customer data. Data leads to greater insight into the things that consumers really want, and can mean companies get smarter with their initiatives.

    Using the insights gathered from your data allows you to tailor your communications to customers. An up-to-date CRM will mean your messaging is targeted and relevant to your audience. Channels such as email newsletters, social media posts, and online communities are a great way to keep you front of mind, and your loyal customers engaged.

    In this new world, businesses need to embrace their customer data and find opportunities to engage meaningfully with them. Consumers want to be treated as individuals, and those that do this will be the ones to succeed.

    Struggling to get to grips with your data?

    A system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 gives you real visibility of your company’s interactions with customers and sales leads. Information is no longer siloed in departments or with individuals – it won’t walk out of the door when they leave.

    Learn how we can help move your data to a more functional system and start growing your business