Customer Data Underpins Your Company’s Success

(Editor’s note: The post was originally published on InsideBIGDATA.com)

Data brings with it a treasure trove of usable information, and, since the dawn of the Digital Age, we’ve had more of it than we ever imagined. Consider this: Every online transaction, every GPS-enabled smartphone, every social media exchange generates digital data. Now, with the Internet of Things, even cars and refrigerators are contributing to the so-called data deluge. Over the years, technology has emerged to capture data, but, as data’s rate of growth continues unabated, businesses are now faced with a new challenge — how to use all the data they’ve collected.

These days, the entire C-suite finds common ground in figuring out how to evaluate and apply aggregated data successfully. Why? The opportunities are huge. Data is essential for retaining existing customers and converting prospects into new sales. In addition, a comprehensive view of customer data will help make new initiatives around delivering on customer experience a success. Indeed, properly managed, big data can create value and generate new revenue streams for manufacturing organizations. With an organization-wide strategy in place, big data gives businesses the power to inform better decision-making, streamline the supply chain, improve capital management, and even coordinate individuals within and outside of the organization for custom projects.

However, organizations flounder when they become overwhelmed by the amount of data available to them, and they don’t know where to start to make it useful. According to a recent study by Ernst and Young, 32 percent of respondents are overwhelmed by data, and while 81 percent agreed that data should be at the center of decision-making, only 31 percent have adjusted their operations accordingly. In today’s growing digital business world, companies that do not embrace big data, or know how to structure it, could see their competitive edge slip away and face extinction in just a number of years.

Clearly, businesses must understand how to use data to deliver insight that helps drive the customer experience and services offered. Therefore, the key to success lies in analyzing data by breaking it down into bite-sized, usable chunks.

Map the Customer Journey

When looking at implementing a data strategy, it’s important to align your internal business operations with the typical life cycle of your customers. This can be done through what is called a “customer journey exercise.” By mapping the customer journey, any organization can identify how a customer typically goes about making a purchase decision with the company. These exercises help to identify the areas where crucial customer data must be captured and puts a business in a position to continue to evolve and improve its services.

By perusing large amounts of correct data, businesses can extract customer habits, customer behavior and other significant patterns that can drive the personalization and efficiency of services.

Personalizing the Customer Experience

In the world of manufacturing, it’s easy to forget about the importance of delivering a personalized customer experience, but business can be won or lost on this very principle. There’s plenty of evidence to support this statement. According to a Walker study, customer experience will trump price and product by 2020. And, 86 percent of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. Today, any manufacturer seen to be slow in their response to changing customer demands risks losing business in an instant — equaling potentially millions in lost sales.

Data Analytics Creates Deeper Customer Relationships

Businesses with data at their fingertips and an ability to use it means they can deliver what customers need before they realize they need it. CRM technology is an integral part of this process, providing the tools needed to synthesize customer information gathered across channels and platforms, and turn it into insights that can be translated into actions, practices and processes. Having these insights at your disposal will in turn empower a business to build deeper relationships with its customers, and support the growth of the business through helping it to keep up with industry demands and improve sales and service operations.

With the manufacturing industry continuing to grow, factories are gaining momentum. Therefore, if manufacturers wish to capitalize on the industry impetus then they must arm themselves with meaningful data. Through this, quality customer experience can be ensured and a business’s ability to retain and attract customers can help boost business revenue.

Data truly is power, but only when it is usable and insightful. For organizations looking to avoid the big data deluge, tools are on hand to help them make the most of their data, rather than becoming overwhelmed by it. The right CRM system ensures data is big enough to provide important insights but simultaneously small enough to remain manageable, accessible and relevant.