Use your data to create a better customer experience

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As the business landscape alters and industries are disrupted, one area that grows in importance is data collection.

Smart businesses realise that it is generally more costly in money and energy to attract new clients than to retain existing ones.

Those companies that have the ability to analyse the data that they collect can also generate some understanding around what the findings may mean, and those businesses will be the most successful moving forward.

Customer experience is the “big thing” right now, and many businesses are trying to get this concept right, without compromising their own values and purpose of being in business. Customer experience refers to providing customers (this could be commercial clients, but this may also be another business depending on your industry, so the term user may be more appropriate) with a positive experience.

The experience should also be individualised and unique. Each customer needs to be made to feel special and different. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all, because it doesn’t. Furthermore, the ‘experience’ mentioned refers to all touch points with your business too so this could be your business identity and reputation (how it makes the user feel when he/she hears your brand mentioned), to the transaction or purchase itself, right through to any contact that is kept after the transaction.  All of these touch points never used to be as important as they are now.

The experience should also be individualised and unique

Smart businesses realise that it is generally more costly in money and energy to attract new clients than to retain existing ones, so they maintain top of mind awareness with their former clients by creating a database and then retaining a relationship over time by sending them interesting newsletters, text messages or even facebook posts. Every single one of these touch points needs to leave the client feeling great and apparently this is the reason they will do business with you again. Social media needs to be consistent and up to date across all the channels. Your customers will notice any discrepancies between all your touch points. This is why it is so important to make sure the right identity is set across all the social media channels of your business.

Data that your business collects from your clients is important because it can tell you many things (depending on what data is collected of course). It can tell you which products are being sold, to whom, and when (what time, what day of the week each customer makes their purchases etc). It can also tell you in what physical location you can find most of your clients (where in the world do they reside) and even if there is a purchasing cycle that can be recognised. In other words, do you find that a group of customers purchase one particular item/service before another? Is the time frame consistent? Can you determine any averages or majorities in the data you collect? This data you collect as part of your day to day business activity could be a gold mine, if you know what to look for, and know what to do with it.

If you can presume some kind of behavioural trend from data you have collected, there are some marketing methods you can utilise to capitalise on this. For example, if your data shows you that most of your customers purchase firstly a games console, and then afterwards they purchase a particular bundle of games you have for sale, you could predict this behaviour for future purposes. You could send an email to the customer just after he/she has purchased a gaming console and promote a slightly more expensive package of games or even something different, in addition!

If you notice they tend to make a purchase from your store when they are in geographic proximity, you might then produce an App for your customers to download, and this shows you their geographical location. This benefits both of you – you can send them a text message offering them some kind of special offer when the App notices they are in the proximity of your physical store.  They will then receive some great offers and deals when they are close in the local to make a purchase.

These are some positive ways you can use data to grow revenue for your business and provide a better customer experience. Customers will certainly be flattered if you pay attention to their purchasing habits and will be pleased to be offered special discounts. However, it is also important you do not limit your service to customers by making assumptions that are incorrect.

Firstly, data is not always accurate when it comes to a customer’s identity and that can make it difficult to assumptions about their behaviour.  For example, your data may tell you that your customers are mostly over the age of 60, but doesn’t automatically mean that both of them have the same hobby. Both Ozzy Osborne and Prince Charles were born in the same year and are successful businessmen.  That could be where the similarities end. Their age does not provide assumptions about their dress sense for example, and an entrepreneur that uses this fact to guess what they like to wear and what their hobbies are would be sorely mistaken. In this case, it may be more constructive to ask the question directly.  Data can also give more accuracy to make these assumptions but not your imagination!

Research and data analysing are going to continue to be more important in business this following year. More refined technology offers easier ways to collect and analyse the data, and businesses then have a multitude of ways in which to utilise the findings in order to provide a greater customer experience.

A large number of possibilities exist as well. Customers are no longer concerned that their data is being collected. in fact, they expect businesses to know about them and use this information to provide interesting and tailored experiences that appeal to them. Technology will facilitate this process to ensure customers receive service that is unique and individual to their personality.

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Katja Forbes
Katja Forbes is a pioneer in the Australian experience design industry and founder of Sydney-based company Syfte. She is International Director of the Interaction Design Association Board. a global organisation of over 100,000 individuals focused on interaction design issues for the practitioner.

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