Four Steps to Effectively Utilize Customer Data
January 27, 2012
The most valuable customer research is often right in front of you, hiding in plain sight. Here are four tips on how to get better at capturing data to engage your customers.
1. Store transactional data
Storing purchased items and their attributes not only benefits your company, but can also bring value to your customers. The company’s immediate benefits are simple: you learn what each customer likes, with their information easily accessible. For example, customers of a clothing store could receive access to a “virtual closet” of past purchases. That way, when the customer is shopping somewhere else, they’d be able to know instantaneously if a top or accessory would match the wardrobe they already have. Lowe’s is doing this really well with their recently released Mylowes product, where you can manage your home, and the purchases you make for it, online. By storing the transactional data for each Lowes customer, Mylowes keeps a record of the appliances, paint colors, light bulb size, etc. for each room in your house. They essentially have created a way to ensure long-term customer retention by using their transactional data to help them organize a vital part of their everyday lives.
2. Utilize the data to serve the customer
Many retail sites have an ability to upsell products using an “interest indicator,” meaning, people who’ve purchased item “A” are likely interested in Item “B.” However, if you’re tracking what your customer has already purchased, you can create an unique profile for each individual utilizing their transactional data to identify their needs. Style, price range, the day and time of their purchase, and how many items they looked at before purchasing are all things you should and can capture to increase online sale conversion through better targeting.
Using the hypothetical clothing store from our first bullet, a customer bought a grey pair of straight leg pants a month ago, and the store just came out with an awesome top that would combine with those pants to make a great outfit. Knowing this customer shops, on average, every other week (most likely after pay day), and that they’ve never spent more the $50 on a top, the store could email them or post on a “my account” home page to let them know there’s a new top that would go great with those grey pants for only $49.
RNKD, a new startup from Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn, is getting people to upload pictures of the clothes in their closet, helping clothing makers learn about customers' tastes and rewarding users for their participation.
3. Integrate with social media
By adding something like Facebook connect to your website, you can tie in your customers friends that also have accounts with your company. This gives you the ability to have friends of your customer make recommendations on products they might be interested in, as well as provide a medium for them to suggest gifts or events for their friends around the holidays and their birthday.
Trip advisor is taking advantage of this by allowing you to view places your friends have visited along with any reviews or recommendations they have. The hope here is to have trusted friends be the catalyst for interaction with their company.
4. Make shopping social
Why not take the experience of our online clothing store one step further and allow users to shop together? Enable customers ask their friends what they think of this top or this outfit, creating a virtual dressing room.
There are an infinite number of ways to utilize data to improve the user experience. Doing it effectively means listening and understanding your audience needs and behaviors, then strategizing how to improve their experience to increase both sales and loyalty.