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    How-to: Leverage your customer data for business success

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Smarter Writer
    Smarter Team

    A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

    Data science is big news, with many consultants promising that big data holds the key to business success. Here’s how you can keep up, even if your budget is low.

    For busy small business owners, the biggest challenge is knowing where to start. You could spend all day collecting customer data or digital engagement data – but if it doesn’t lead to tangible, useful, profitable insights, there’s not much point.

    So what should you be measuring and monitoring? And what tools do business owners like you depend on to save time (and money) in a complex data landscape?

    “I think you need to understand what drives your business success, and then measure that,” says Loralle Slater, chief operating officer at RedZed Lending Solutions, a Melbourne-based financing firm. 

    She says RedZed, whose customers include brokers and borrowers, keeps historical customer data on its three operating systems. The business uses QlikView to link the systems and report on all data, with a dashboard that includes key metrics including volume of applications, settlements and collection performance. These are key factors for RedZed’s business success.

    Because RedZed competes on service, it also tracks cycle time and conversion rates by customer and employee, and it reports back to brokers via individual dashboards.

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    Power up your customer database

    Every business needs a single source of truth for core customer data – it could be an industry platform, a cloud-based portal or your own software. Salesforce is one of the most popular customer relations management (CRM) systems in Australia, but there are many others. It’s essential your CRM integrates easily with other software you use – marketing automation tools, email and social channels, for example. And ask yourself: does it sync to your mobile devices so you always have contacts at your fingertips? Your CRM is also only as good as the accuracy and amount of the data on it – can you use it to personalise online campaigns, send birthday notes or automate emails?

    5 platforms that  track big data for small prices
    1. Google Analytics: Tracks traffic and conversion of key performance indicators on your website.
    2. Mailchimp: Tracks email campaign open rates and offers powerful CRM integration.
    3. Yesware: Integrates with Salesforce and Gmail to gather engagement data for your emails.
    4. Tableau: A tool to help you visually present the data you have to your business partners.
    5. Jaspersoft: Integrates and embeds analytics into your own applications.

    What data do you already hold?

    You may already have access to valuable customer information – all you need is a way to capture it. Focus on the insights that can help you provide better service, increase sales or improve retention. These could include:

    • Customer purchase history: Use this to trigger follow-up communications, service reminders, recommendations for complementary products and requests for reviews.
    • Favourite purchase information: Use this information – from colour preferences to how they take their coffee – to personalise a customer’s experience.
    • Purchase timings: Use this information to create reminders or seasonal offers and support more accurate sales forecasting.

    For example, Gelato Messina use social media metrics to help them test different flavours before they start churning – they’re known to post a flavour on Facebook and can gauge within an hour how it will sell.

    It’s direct feedback like this that can make more impact on your business decisions than worrying about the number of likes a post receives. Just make sure you put that information to work – turn your data into insights and your insights into action.

    Originally published September 23rd 2014. Updated December 4th 2019.

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