Big data. Small data. Both have significant value for businesses of all sizes. We talked about the difference between big and small data, then offered some ideas for where to find it in your business. Any data that is easy for you to access, collect and interpret will provide helpful information to make better decisions and critical improvements for your customers. However, it’s important not to hide behind the data you gather in an effort to prove yourself right. Using the data to prove yourself wrong is arguably more important. Allow us to explain.
Asking the right questions
Customer surveys are a terrific source of small data that can provide you with some important feedback on their experience. But often these surveys don’t ask the right questions. Let’s take a closer look at two typical examples:
Question: Did we solve your problem today? Answer: yes or no. Good start but the responses tell you very little. It’s not clear what is being measured. And it’s not clear from the responses what you could do to improve their experience. Too many questions left unanswered by this data set.
Question revised: Was this your first call to our customer service for this issue? The answer is still yes or no but now you have a better idea of where to look to improve the customer experience. Now you can measure how well you resolve issues on the first call. And if your results are strong this measurement gives you something tout in your marketing. If your results are weak then you can celebrate! You’ve just uncovered an important problem that can be fixed and measured again.
Question: On a scale of 1–5 how likely are you to recommend us? This question is likely to yield the answer you are hoping for but not necessarily a useful response. Again, not clear what is being measured or how the answers can be utilized.
Question revised: What was the best/worst part of your buying experience? Giving your customers a chance to sound off is crucial. Put yourself in your customer’s place and create questions that will matter to them, not just you or your executive team. Notice that in this revision we changed from a quantitative answer to a qualitative answer. Much more valuable to improving the customer experience.
Numbers tell only part of the story
The sample questions point to the fact that quantitative data is one-dimensional. It tells only a limited part of the story. Measuring your performance means finding your flaws and closing the gaps that customers have been slipping through on their way to becoming happy, loyal customers. Find out what your customers want you to obsess about and take steps to get there. Like the bartender who knows your name and serves your favorite drink without having to ask, get the small data right and you will win raving, loyal fans with strong lifetime value. But more on that next time.
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Big data. Small data. Both have significant value for businesses of all sizes. In our last article we attempted to define big data and small data. We also recommended building an information strategy. For this article series, we are tackling this topic from the perspective of businesses that don’t have marketing budgets to rival the likes of IBM or Facebook. Check out our “small data ideas for the rest of us” below. And be sure to leave a comment to let us know what you think.
Where do I find small data?
Any data that is easy for you to access, collect and interpret will provide helpful information to make better decisions and powerful change for your customers. Look to the immediate and obvious for small data:
- Pre-sale activities: if you are utilizing a CRM tool to track your prospects you already have an advantage. Hopefully your CRM is set up to group prospects by category and capture a diverse set of details.
- Sales transactions: look closely at the data you capture during a sale, whether point-of-sale or online. Pay close attention to the types of details and patterns that data contain. And explore ways to collect more information to expand that data set.
- Customer service: look at your systems or methods for tracking calls or inquiries to see what data set they already contain. Simple tools such as a reason codes or customer satisfaction surveys will tell you a lot about what the customer experience is like post sale.
- Email analytics: if you are using an email database tool for newsletters and promotions you should have access to plenty of data about the response and performance of your emails.
- Website analytics: Review any tracking tools provided your website platform as well as the information provided by Google Analytics.
We’ve simplified these ideas to give you a sense of where data might be hiding. Tracking information about your customers, even 10 to 12 things, will give you some solid insights.
Jump start your strategy
Once you’ve figured out where the data lives in your business, it’s time to get organized. This list of questions will get you started:
- What data do we already have available?
- Does this data give a complete picture of the customer experience from start to finish?
- What additional data would create a complete picture of our customers and their experience?
- What can we add to the information gathering we already do?
- How will we utilize all this data? In marketing? In user experience improvement?
Aiming for that personalized experience
In our first article we used the simplified example of walking into your favorite pub. The action of the bartender greeting you by name and serving your favorite beverage without having to ask yielded an important result. Personalization. You as the customer, feel both acknowledged and appreciated. There’s a distinct reason this is your favorite pub. And it most likely has a lot to do with that personalization of your user experience.
This topic is so big that our discussion is going to spill over into our next article. More ideas “for the rest of us” next time. Stay tuned.
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Big. Scary. Expensive. Right? Big data is a term being thrown around by internet and marketing gurus quite a bit these days. It’s a complex topic with complex analytics that only super-human scientist types understand. Well, sort of. Yes, big data is complex. But you don’t have to be super-human to understand it. And you don’t have to be in big business to take advantage of what big data, or even small data has to offer.
What is big data anyway?
For the record, big data is defined in this article from Forbes as a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. Common sources of big data include digital inputs like web behavior and social network interactions and activity. As such, big companies have so much big data that they require complex software systems run by skilled staff to collect, organize and interpret the massive volume of information being gathered every day. Big data gives big companies an edge by providing a much deeper understanding of their customers’ interests, likes and dislikes. This granular level of information is a gold mine for their marketing teams.
Then what is small data?
According to our friends at TechTarget, small data is data in a volume and format that makes it accessible, informative and actionable. Small data typically provides information that answers a specific question or addresses a specific problem. Examples of small data are sales data, inventory reports, demographics and buying habits like online purchase or automated reorder. Small data is anything you know about your customer base. This information is as valuable to you as big data is to a big company. The key is knowing what to do with it. A somewhat simplified example would be walking into your favorite tavern and sitting in your regular seat. The bartender greets you by name and brings your favorite beverage without having to ask what you want. Small data used to deliver exceptional customer service.
What to do about it
Small data is not limited to helping you develop a better relationship with your customers. It can also help you streamline your operations, improve customer service, boost sales and drive a host of other business building initiatives. Start by building an information strategy. Now don’t run screaming from the room at the sight of the word strategy. Building a strategy can be simple. And data is everywhere in your business. You are probably already using much of this information, it’s just never been labeled as small data before. But it’s time to label it, leverage it and get the most from your business.
The bottom line: leverage everything you know about your customers and your business. Any data that is easy for you to access, collect and interpret will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions and powerful change.
In our next article, we will offer ideas on where to look for data, ways to capture it and how to get the most out of the information.
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