It appears that the continued buzzword is “Big Data”. Companies want to own more data about their clients and are looking for ways to harness this data. There are several issues with capturing data and relying on it to ultimately drive marketing campaigns. This isn’t anything new…It has always been this way.
There is a great article in Target Marketing Magazine, September 4, 2013 “6 Common Problems With CRM Data” It looks at the issues of collecting and analyzing data in CRM Systems. It is a short article that makes some really good points.
I have talked to other business owners who are investing sizeable amounts of money to gather information on their clients and potential markets. In addition, they are defining processes to collect data internally to hopefully make better product and service offerings to their clients.
As I study this topic more and more, I am coming to the realization that the focus should really be about building relationships and taking notes on how our clients use our products and services. The best way to accomplish this is by building relationships with our clients and making sure our clients are connected with someone at our company on a first name, last name basis.
Now, I really think gathering data is important in better understanding clients. The best question we currently use is, “How did you hear about our <Company Name>? By asking people this simple question has helped us realize where we need to focus our communications and target marketing. In addition, we send out periodic service surveys to get a better understanding of how people perceive our services and whether they plan on coming back or not. Again, these questions only target a small percentage of our users.
The next item we are working on is reviewing our current client accounts and making sure we keep in touch with them. This is critical! At our company, we have field representatives who make personal visits to clients in particular territories. Since we are growing nationally, we are looking at new ways to strengthen relationships out of our immediate location. This is where we are spending the majority of our time building relationships.
I have also found out that getting out in the community both locally and nationally, (online) is critical to keeping a healthy relationship and keeping a presence out in the marketplace. Social Media can be a big part of this.
The point here is that data is great, but right now I believe it is being over-sold and over-hyped. Relationships are the key and I belive this is the are that companies will see the most results with their efforts. The trick is to build a consistent system that is easy to manage and service. It starts with a strong client service team.
For me I would rather start with collecting relationship data: 1) Feedback, (Positive, Negative) from clients 2) How our clients found us? 3) Client Complaints? 4) Input regarding new products/services 5) Have they ever toured our company? Would they like to? 6) Last time client was visited or contacted.
If these items are in place, data like purchase history and associated sales revenue should come back as a positive report.
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