Small Businesses Are Missing Out By Ignoring Customer Data
Around 96 per cent of businesses in the UK today have a single employee. For that person it can be a pretty stressful job functioning as CEO, Financial Director, Chief Marketing Officer and IT Manager all rolled into one, but here’s one more thing to remember: collecting and maximising your customer data could make the difference between business success and failure.
Some small businesses, especially at the mid-sized end of the spectrum, are slowly waking up to the possibilities offered by using this kind of business intelligence, but for many it remains a sadly missed opportunity. We’re not talking about the Big Data buzzword here – this shouldn’t require a massive investment, technical know-how or shift in your business operations, just gathering and leveraging basic information on customers to grow your small business.
So what do you need to do? Well first up you need to start using a simple online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. There are hundreds of free versions available on the web, so do a bit of research online and maybe trial a few to find the one which offers you the right blend of functionality, a user interface you are comfortable with and assurances that any customer data will be stored securely by the provider. Next up you need to do something with that data – perhaps start off at a simple level with email campaigns and promotions. Even using relatively basic CRM functionality like this on a regular basis can have a significant impact on your business. Remember, selling into an existing loyal customer can be much cheaper and easier than acquiring a new one.
Done right, it’ll enhance your relationship with the customer, generate word of mouth and ultimately boost sales, which is good for the small business. It’ll also help bricks and mortar businesses expand their online channel, which is an area where Payment Service Providers (PSPs) can really help out.
There’s a growing realisation among the PSP community that more can be done to help support small businesses in terms of providing them with actionable data on customer transactions. Just like CRM data it can help drive sales and improve business performance. For example, understanding at which points of the day card transactions peak could enable a business to put on tailored offers or promos to drive sales at alternative times, or put the right levels of staffing in place to cope with demand. Some PSPs will also have intelligence which could show a business how well similar businesses in the same postcode area are faring – enabling them to take action if they’ve fallen too far below the baseline.
At the moment PSPs offer customers detailed statements at the end of the month but there’s certainly an overdue move in the industry to enhance this business intelligence. We’re developing, for example, a new portal to help our customers understand more detailed transactional data like that associated with charge backs.
The key to all of this is to start off simple. It’s not something that’s going to appeal unless your business is firmly established and looking to take the next step – as a minimum probably after 1-2 years – but it is an area which has been sorely overlooked by many. For this very reason, even working with simple sets of customer data to tailor marketing and promotions could have a big impact, driving sales and customer loyalty and propelling you ahead of the opposition.