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Why we obsess about your customer and sales data

14. des, 2016


Big data. Heard it before? Sure you have. Everyone wants in on it, it’s the future, it’s coming, it’s here, it’s the new loud. If you want to effectively automate and fine-tune your marketing, there’s no way around it. But how?

I’ve seen my share of customer data sets and I’ve spent (probably waaaay too much) time manually slicing, dicing and pruning databases in order to find the right customers for marketing campaigns. Over the years, I’ve found a few consistencies regarding these – by which I mean your – customer and response data.

One: it’s not good enough for reliable analyses.

Most traditional customer data sets are, and mostly in a negative way, manually added to and updated. Your call center employees, outbound sales reps and, by all means, your customers themselves are doing their best – but they’re only human, and their systems mostly don’t care about the content that is being stored in your precious soon-to-be-Big-Data stockpile. So you end up with Bad Data – duplicates created when customers return, missing age and gender information, outdated address information, etc.

Bad Data doesn’t turn into Big Data when you scale it up, it just gets more bad and unreliable. Sooner or later you’re going to have to change the way in which you work with your data from the bottom up. We’ve made a huge effort to accommodate this in our data structure, enforcing rigid quality standards in a highly flexible grid. This helps to make use of every bit of new information that is added or modified – which is what you want.

Two: Few people in your organization know, and/or care, about your data

If there’s one thing you need to understand right now, it’s that as a business owner, leader, executive or manager you are working with data, regardless of business. And most of your employees are either utilizing, supplying or contributing to this data. If you haven’t realized this already, or you’re not realizing this right now, then someone else who does will be disrupting your business. Shortly.

I’ve been in the receiving end of customer data for about fifteen years through my work in sales and campaign management. One thing I’ve noticed is that there is usually, at best, one or maybe two individuals that really know and care about the state, quality and improvement of your customer database. These are sometimes people with IT background or some interest in the field, but not always. Often, they are people who work systematically and routinely with producing lists and queries, reports and/or statistics. Rarely does anyone else in the organization know what the hell they are talking about, and if they do they are usually very happy to leave every CRM- or data-related decision in their hands. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. It’s kind of lonely, but rewarding in the sense that at least we know how important the work is.

More people in your organization need to get involved in the systematic utilization, supply and contribution to your customer and response data. We’ve made a great number of steps to aid in this in our software, and will continue to do so.

Three: You’re not collecting enough information from your customer interactions

In addition to being in the receiving end of customer data, I’ve been collecting data for most of my working career (actually for most of my free time too, but that’s another story). What puzzled me, and still puzzles me, is how little I’ve been returning. Over the years I’ve collected tens of millions of response records, with high relevance to products and services being offered by clients, but just a tiny fraction of this information ever found its way back home, let alone systematically used for improving the next campaign and/or providing insight into customer and market behavior. So we, as a sales channel, largely put this information to good use ourselves – logging causes for non-sales, response and noresponse times, exclusion causes, contact information enrichment, compliance, reasons for purchase, etc. – and reaped the benefits through being able to pick just the right next customer from any CRM system, knowing when and why customers do what they do based on what we know about what they’ve done in the past. With your product or a similar one. You should do it too. It works.

You can plug Headshed Cube into just about any customer database and start working systematically with customer interactions.