Do you remember the days of 16k scientific calculators and Atari? How about punch card programs? Slide rules? Well if you do remember as well as we do, those days of premillennial technology are long gone.
Nowadays, a conversation overheard on the business class section of an airplane will consist of acronyms for technology and techniques that will be outdated before they are implemented. One basic concept that will remain constant throughout all of these microcycles and mini-trends is that businesses sell to customers.
Once a business loses sight of it’s ultimate goal, it will not take long to steer off the successful course. Focusing on the customer is an easy banner to tout, but how can it be maintained? What costs are associated with this type of endeavor? Most costs can be measured in some form, like hardware and software, marketing programs, consulting, training and analytics, but the most elusive of all is the cost of not collecting and acting upon information from or about the customer.
Quote of the day, “Know thy customer or lose thy customer”
There are several ways to collect information on your customers and much of the data itself is free for the asking!
Point of sale
Ask questions of your customers and make every interaction relevant. Are you identifying each sale to the customer and product level? Historical sales will show trends such as product preferences, and purchase frequency. Monitoring and analyzing this data can give clues to trends and trends can be used in formulation of communication strategies and sales goals.
Marketing promotions and surveys
Incremental information can be collected in small pieces as the customer visits your store, calls in to your 800 number or logs onto your website.
Append and Analyze
A good rule of thumb is to not ask for information that can be appended, rather save your precious time with the customer for information that cannot be inferred or appended. Unless your customer is the dog from the New Yorker cartoon who points out that when you are online, no one knows you are a dog, data can be appended to enhance your existing profile. Even so, in the case of the online dog, clickstream data can be captured and analyzed to provide valuable insight to his or her online habits.
Service bureaus offer rather complex matching and tracking methods that can provide valuable demographic information as well as psychographic data. Modeling your transactional data and your enhanced customer database can provide valuable insight as to where to spend your marketing and advertising dollars.
Don’t forget that while we talk of the plummeting cost of terabytes and wireless technologies, the highest cost is in not listening to the customer and striving to fulfill their needs. While you may be talking technology and IPO, your competitor may be collecting data on your customers.