We’re obviously in an age of unprecedented access to customer insights and information, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to gather and leverage data. Businesses – small businesses, in particular – must be very strategic with the information they collect and how they go about procuring it.
Data collection and analysis takes time, so it would be a shame to focus on the wrong information.
Five Different Ways to Collect Data
Data collection is a very complicated topic. Everyone has their own opinions and theories on it, which makes it challenging to have constructive conversations. But if you’re simply looking to get your feet wet and begin gathering data, the following five options will afford you the best chance of being successful.
1. Study Your Blog Numbers
If your company has an active blog presence, then you should be carefully studying the numbers and taking full advantage of the access you have to various data collection and analysis tools.
From the very moment you create your blog, you should be building a foundation that’s conducive to collecting data. This means using the right tools and measuring the way users are interacting with your content.
There are a handful of things to look for, but readership growth is arguably one of the most important. As entrepreneur Beth Kanter says , “There are two different kinds of web viewers: subscribers and visitors. Subscribers have made a commitment to regularly receive (and hopefully read or at least scan) your blog. Visitors are people who occasionally visit your blog. You should pay attention to monthly trends of content consumption over time. This will tell you a lot about your readers’ satisfaction with your content.”
2. Train Call Center Reps
If your company has a call center, you need to carefully consider how you can train your reps to not only solve customer problems, but also collect valuable information in a nonintrusive manner.
While you can try implementing a survey at the end of every call, you may not see great results. It’s better to have your sales reps naturally slip questions into the conversation. Come up with a list of questions you want to poll customers on and start training your call center reps accordingly.
3. Record Transactional Data
For ecommerce companies that sell directly from their own website, collecting transactional data is hugely important.
“Recording and analyzing each customer’s transaction history – what they purchase from you, when and how often – helps you know which products and services to offer them in the future,” says Kim LaChance Shandrow of Entrepreneur. This is something major ecommerce sites like Amazon and Zappos do effectively. As a result, they’re able to deliver relevant product recommendations in the future.
4. Tap Into Social Media
Social media is more than a marketing and customer service tool. It can also be used for gaining customer insights – both directly and indirectly. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these opportunities, which include sending out surveys, mining trending topics, listening to conversations, and studying audience demographics.
5. Simply Ask
The final tip is to simply ask. Whether via email, phone calls, social media, or face-to-face, you should be asking customers for feedback all the time. You’d be surprised by how many are willing to give you honest information (both positive and negative). Sadly, many companies miss out on this because they fail to ask.
Using Your Customer Data
Collecting customer data is only half of the equation. In order to maximize its value, you must learn how to analyze and use these insights. Make sure you’re spending just as much time on this half of the process and you’ll be well on your way to success.