If you want to truly understand your customers and be the absolute best in your industry, you need to track and keep track of as many data points, or pieces of information, within your business as possible. If you’re not, you really are losing out on information, customers, and worst of all, sales.
In an era of big data driven by cheap storage and computing power, there is a war of information going on. Whoever has the most data and the best tools to analyze it will win, or at least have a major leg up on their competitors. While huge companies like Facebook and Amazon battle it out with other Fortune 500 companies, you should be using the same type of techniques to win in your local niche market.
At the very least you should be keeping your customers in some sort of database. This could be with an email or physical mailing list, a loyalty program, an advanced POS system, or whatever lets you keep track of their most basic information. You can then use this to communicate with your customers. To take this to the next level, keep track of what they buy or at least their general preferences, and then you can tailor your offers to fit their needs.
If you run a retail or eCommerce store, you should also be keeping track of your inventory and sales in the same database or system. You can then run reports to see how fast your items sell, what items are hot and when, and when to reorder items or find complementary offerings. Now, if this database also contains your customers and their order history, you can further personalize your offers and communications with your customers.
Any decent software package should support the type of ideas and options described above. If it does and you feel comfortable, you can set them up yourself. If you are not sure or you just want to make sure it’s done right, you can contact an expert to help.
If you don’t even have any sort of database or computerized system like this setup, you should at least investigate giving it a try. The costs to begin are lower than ever, and the ROI can be extraordinary if implemented correctly.
Finally, make sure you keep this information secure and be transparent about your policies. Let your customers know what you’re keeping track of, how you’re keeping it secure, and why you need it. Explain how it is a win-win scenario, and give people the option to opt out Never sell people’s information either, especially without their consent, as this is the quickest way to lose their trust.