Startups would be remiss if they weren’t seizing on customer data out of the gate. However, like many aspects of business and life in general, there’s an art to doing it the “right” way. In this instance, it’s maintaining integrity and customer trust by utilizing data responsibly, rather than abusing the unprecedented level of information at the disposal of modern companies.
For small businesses just getting started, the task of getting data to work for you without it working against the company-customer relationship can appear daunting to say the least. To help out, here are five steps to successfully utilizing customer data without putting trust at risk:
Use it to improve the customer experience
People generally aren’t so critical of companies utilizing their data if they’re getting something out of the arrangement. That is, more than targeted advertising. Assisting companies big and small with this effort is an array of customer relationship management software. Startups are advised to check a CRM product directory to find a particular service to their liking. Simply put, good CRM helps to make sense of data from a customer service perspective. This makes it not only ideal but essential for any startup looking to responsibly manage customer data.
Ensure accuracy every time
Failure to accurately assess customer data leads to two major problems for businesses big and small. For one it nearly obliterates the effectiveness of targeted outreach and can easily go unnoticed for days or weeks of a campaign. Secondly, it signals to customers the company is willing to mismanage sensitive data. Use company insiders to test the data management apparatus on the other end. By having routine controlled examination, accuracy can be confirmed and maintained.
It’s important for startups to look at data from more than one angle. Otherwise, they risk only getting one part of the overall story. However, a tightrope must be walked to prevent overwhelming customers with too many information requests during account setup and so forth. Find an array of business intelligence tools at the onset of a startup and pick off the seemingly redundant ones as time goes on. This will guarantee maximum comparison advantage without causing customers to be turned off by recurring prompts.
Take security seriously
Protecting customer data is a responsibility far too many small business neglect. Simply put, don’t be that company. Cyber criminals actively search for relatively low level companies with a large pool of clients and online activity. In virtually every instance of a hacking breach where a business was backed by network security, the weak point comes down to human error. Security is only as good as the men and women managing the points of entry.
Identifying “bundles of association”
Ultimately, making the most of customer data calls for taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture of their lives. According to a Harvard Business School blog post on the subject, the fundamental building blocks of useful customer data are called bundles of association. In its simplest form, it’s the relationship between a product or service and an idea or emotion in the mind of a consumer. It’s the link between the two which so oftentimes drives sales which are otherwise difficult to predict or project.
Customer data is every startup’s best friend. However, its guidance and mentorship is of little use without the right tools and resources to make sense of the overwhelming volume of information at hand. More importantly, customer data utilization requires responsible handling of the data, otherwise company trustworthiness is at stake. And few companies on this planet, big or small, can claim to be successful without being trusted by their customers.