How to effectively use customer data

Posted by Justin Hesser on May 2, 2012

Many companies collect data on their customers, everything from online clicking habits or shopping patterns. But although this data may be stored in a custom database, it won't do much unless the employees know how to use it. To that effect, FastCompany has offered three tips for companies to follow to accurately use its data.

According to FastCompany, businesses should be able to give the customer a sense of control while taking advantage of the data. For example, when major retailer Target first started to recognize pregnant customers based on their purchasing patterns, rather than directly affronting them with prenatal products, Target would send flyers that included only a few of those products with an abundance of random items mixed in.

Although the company was able to increase sales by accurately marketing to the right customer, it was done in a way that wasn't on-the-nose and made the customer feel in control of their decisions.

Also, when companies are directly talking to customers or clients it's important for the employees to have a wealth of data available on hand, but to only mention what is necessary. Although this is very similar to the first rule on allowing the customer to feel as if they still maintain control, this is more about privacy.

When FastCompany's contributor, Sean Madden, was speaking with a representative at Amazon he asked if they could send it to his "Northeast Ninth Avenue" address without previously mentioning that he listed it. The representative said yes and that was it. Discretion has become a key way for companies to use data when it comes to customer relations.

But, in order for employees to successfully practice these tips and tricks, FastCompany says that they must first have the right tools to get the job done. By investing in a database software or custom application development, managers and executives can ensure they will provide their customers with the proper tools to effectively use customer data.