Big data and data mining are buzzwords that have echoed frequently in the business press during the past three or four years. The noise level has caused business leaders to feel obligated to collect data from as many customer interactions as possible. OK, that’s very ambitious of them, but now what? There is a lot of talk about big data and data mining and increasingly there is some action, but the dust has not yet settled. Many organizations are struggling with how to interpret, utilize and store the copious amounts of customer data now in their possession.
Customer information is always useful, but does data collection have meaning for small businesses and Freelance solopreneurs? What information should a Freelancer collect and what do we do with it once we have it? Do big data and data mining have any use for the little people? The answer is yes, but no. Big data and data mining are of most use to the bigger players, who use the costly to acquire information to fine-tune product offers to millions of current and potential customers.
Freelancers and small business owners can start with their client list. Who has done business with you over the past five years? Who are your repeat customers? What do they buy from you and when do they buy it? If you have not done business with a B2B or B2G client in the past two years, is your contact still at the organization and is s/he still in the same position? Are B2C physical and email addresses current? Visit company websites and view the staff lists to confirm email addresses, telephone numbers and job titles.
Customer data might give you ideas on how to improve customer service, cause you to re-think your pricing strategy, or help you to discover unexpected talking points for your next email marketing campaign or monthly newsletter. Your customer data might prompt you to reconsider good customers of years past and get you thinking about how to win them back. Updated customer information will make it easy for you to send out holiday cards in December to your B2B and B2G clients and do some relationship-building, an important element of customer retention.
Online customer surveys that are accessible on your website and also emailed to your customer list have the potential to bring in still more useful customer data. Learn how to devise a survey that makes it easy for customers to share the information that you want. Keep the questions simple and don’t ask more than 10 to achieve the highest rate of participation. Freelancers may also want to send out post-project surveys with the final invoice.
Social media outlets are another excellent source of customer data. Social media have a way of bringing out uncensored thoughts and you might be surprised by what you learn. Are your customers willing to engage with you on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter? Will any join in a Google + Hangout and join in a voice and video live chat?
Collecting data from many touch points is potentially very useful for every business entity, but what you make of it and do with it are what matters. Freelancers and small business owners can use customer info to improve revenue by way of expanding billable hours or sales of current customers; re-establishing business with lapsed customers; new customer acquisition and relationship-building. Small data can yield big results when properly interpreted and utilized.
Thanks for reading,