Operating and growing a successful business can be far easier than it sounds when you simply make a point to apply data-driven decision making more frequently. But with today's enterprises gathering more details and data from shoppers than ever before at every turn, finding ways to juggle a growing customer database does take some advance planning and forethought. Luckily, a few simple shifts in thinking and strategy are all it takes for your business to become more effective at customer database management, and more effectively handle the process of customer data analysis. Apply them to your IT and data management strategies going forward, and you can not only help your business get smarter faster, but also help radically improve your ability to innovate and the speed at which you can make data-driven decisions.
With websites, apps and online solutions all now pushing more insights your way than ever before, it pays to be clearer up front about which data points matter most to your business. It's important to focus on quality, not quantity here, and filter out less useful submissions. Start by determining which mission-critical variables (leads, sales conversion rates, frequent purchases, etc.) most readily map to improving bottom line results. Then implement customer database management systems and automated routines that allow you to quickly isolate and surface these details, track emerging trends and quickly feed key insights to decision makers. As part of your auditing process, try to narrow things down to which 6-10 specific variables that, if improved, can make the largest positive impact on your business the soonest.
When plotting a shape for your IT infrastructure, think on a broad scale, and consider: Could others in the business benefit from having access to this information—and where else could customer insights be applied to achieve further objectives? In effect, your customer database should serve as a springboard to innovation. And the more you take a collaborative approach to customer database management and data analysis, and make a point to regularly share learnings throughout the organization, the more successful you can be.
Bearing in mind how quickly customer details can become outdated, it's important to regularly update and refresh your database to stay current. To this extent, every 4-6 months, make a point to validate shopper details such as email address, physical address, phone number and other forms of contact information. Likewise, conduct a formal data audit to remove duplicate and non-working entries, and ensure consistency across all records.
A few simple shifts in thinking and strategy are all it takes for your business become more effective at customer database management, and more effectively handle the process of customer data analysis.
A number of intelligent and automated tools can help you scrub information and keep customer details current. Similarly, your salesforce should also make a point to sit down and review customer relationship management (CRM) tools and records at this point, making sure all notes and insights are up to date.
It's crucial for a modern business to implement robust customer relationship management tools, especially if it maintains a workforce of any significant size. It's also important to put unified and centralized systems in place that make it easy for workers across the organization (including representatives out in the field) to enjoy ready access to this intelligence anytime, anywhere. Being able to easily access these insights not only makes it much easier to do business on the go, but also simpler to understand various customer segments and motivations. It also makes it easier to parse and understand any client's history at a glance, comprehend individual buyers' needs, and determine how to best tailor pitches or presentations so as to better connect. The more readily these insights and details can be called up on command, and the more rapidly you can surface key items of importance to prospective clients, the more readily your teams can personalize and tailor recommendations and provide superior customer service.
In today's online and data-driven world, it's important to employ best practices in security measures to guard against data breaches and back up information on a real-time (or, at minimum, daily) basis. But in addition, maintaining proper customer database management today also involves having to put safeguards in place that can defend against data corruption and ensure high levels of network uptime.
Similarly, to manage customer data more effectively, you'll also want to put formal operating policies in place that map out how data is to be gathered, stored and archived, and how the process of disaster recovery will work in the event of a system failure or breach. Likewise, customers' data should be assigned a level of confidentiality, and access to this information limited to only individuals who need it to do their job at all times. Adopting a multi-factor authentication process (requiring multiple individuals to approve any change or update of note, whether to your business's methods of data collection or user access levels) can also help you better manage information and guard against compromise. With increasingly large volumes of sensitive data being shared online more frequently than ever, customer protection is also a vital topic to consider when thinking about how to effectively manage a customer database.
As you can see, data-driven decision making requires organizations to ingest, manage and analyze more customer data today than at any previous point in history. But the process of effective customer database management, and customer data analysis, becomes much easier to handle when you design and structure your data management and IT governance processes to be just a little bit more resilient and robust.
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