The rise of social and mobile technology has empowered the consumer; their always-on, connected state has fundamentally changed the way they purchase products and engage with brands.
Customers now expect much greater speed of service delivery, tailored products and recommendations, and relevant communications. Organisations that do this well are those that have put in place processes and mechanisms to help them better understand who their customers are and what they want.
Notonthehighstreet.com is an excellent example of this. The online-marketplace utilises 80 data visualisation dashboards to see the whole story in its data and to spot patterns in its customers’ behaviour. The 360° view of its business and customers it has achieved helps Notonthehighstreet.com identify and provide potential growth opportunities for the independent retailers on their books.
Understanding how best to harness data and source meaningful insights from it, in the main, is the first step in gaining better access to and understanding your customer base. This, however, is perhaps easier said than done. The mass of data now available to organisations can appear daunting. For example, which data sets should you be using and how? Many companies like Facebook and eBay deal with petabytes of data on a daily basis, which is near impossible to quantify in physical terms. Whether you’re a data-rich giant or a growing SME, data shouldn’t have to be this intimidating. We’ve, therefore, provided our top tips to help you achieve a 360° view of your customer in a data driven world:
Be An Information Activist
Don’t be an information laggard – understand that we now live in a world shaped by data. This provides us with the potential to get closer to the customer than ever before. Get to know their habits and preferences and use this insight to put your customers at the heart of your business.
We’re already seeing that 42 per cent of workers are now required to make a data driven decision in their job at least once a day. This is only set to rise, and it’s important to empower people within your organisation with the right platform, so they can use this data effectively. By encouraging a culture of data analysis throughout the whole organisation it will provide greater opportunities for sales people to identify new trends and opportunities to feed back into the business for greater ROI. The more that people use analytics, the more value organizations will get from analytics.
Put People Before Data
Selecting the most relevant and quality data sets is crucial when it comes to spotting trends and opportunities for your business. Put people before data and believe in your own understanding of your company and field of expertise. Data is only as good as the brain behind it and in a world overwhelmed by data, insight and expertise comes first. Ensure that the appropriate governance is put in place to make sure that data is used effectively to complement your creativity and everyday decisions.
This recommendation applies to the data itself and also in the physical sense of the word. Firstly, consider using data sets from outside of your organisation to drive decisions. For example, what are your customers interested in and what topics are trending on social channels? As organisations move to a more data-driven culture, the importance of context becomes more significant. It’s not enough to look at just internal data, it’s necessary to understand important associations and relationships. A sales manager could add population data to their sales data to better understand market penetration or combine weather information to understand the effect of weather on retail sales.
By having multiple sources of data and one single view, simplicity will free up time to get out into the field. Data should be an asset rather than a decision maker on its own, as people come before data, visual analytics at the point of decision can be gained from seeing operations first hand.
There is now no excuse to be unaware of what’s going on within your business – one, consistent view can be easily achieved throughout all levels of an organisation. A CEO can have access to the same granular insight and real-time knowledge as the sales team in the field. Having the same transparent view leads to greater collaboration across the business as different expertise can now come together using the same information. Collaboration leads to a different perspective and knowledge sharing will help to achieve better decision making.
People based marketing is key – capture the data about where your customers are and how their interests change. Social should also be encouraged to improve customer service interaction and build a holistic profile of your customer base. Data can be used to drive your own position on social; it helps you find customers, join their conversations and edge closer to achieving a holistic customer view.
Many use the phrase ‘data is the new oil’ to describe the rich benefits it offers businesses. We, however, prefer to use the analogy data is the new water, and we do so for a number of reasons. Firstly, as with water, data should be valued, preserved and available to everyone. Secondly, quality leads the clarity. The cleaner the waters, the further you can see and more you will find. And lastly, invest in the right data sets and use the resource effectively and responsibly. Follow these simple steps and you will quickly see the whole story and edge closer to gaining a full 360° view of your customer.
About the author: Paul Winsor is the Director, Market Development for Retail & Services Industries at Qlik. The views and ideas expressed in this article are his own.