Data alone is never enough

(April 2019 iFundwomen gathering of business owners, media, and investors in The Bookery, Manchester, NH)

If you want growth, build relationships – but start with data

The trick for businesses today is getting data that serves three purposes, the first is to expose what your customer truly wants and truly needs from you in order to make their (the customer’s) business run better.

The second purpose is to help you understand your customer better so that you not only create services and products they want and need, but also align your performance to deliver what your marketing is promising

The third purpose is to boost your ability to create meaningful relationships with the customers you depend on. (These three purposes and how to organize your data meaningfully are explored in a free video training set – click here to access)

A few years back, Gallup researched the B2B (Business to Business) world to try and figure out if quantitative data alone is enough to create growth.

The answer:  NO

You must have a mix of data that can be both measured and kept in spreadsheets (quantitative) as well as data that describes your customer in terms of values, areas of concern, areas of opportunity, and areas where you can help and assist via your performance and offerings (qualitative).

This mix of qualitative and quantitative requires two main things:

  • Which data should be gathered. This is a narrowing of just go get everything possible and we’ll figure it out later. Targeted, meaningful data is a key element to avoiding the common problem of data overload while at the same time never having the correct data available to work with. Data must help make visible both critical customer requirements as well as your capabilities and performance in comparison to what is desired. Some of this can be obtained automatically, yet there are aspects that require conversation.
  • Data should help you understand the reality in which your customer lives – both the good and the threatening. This requires much more interpersonal work.

To gather good qualitative data, you can’t measure a passing event on the fly, like say a truck leaving a warehouse at a specific time. Surveys have some, but not enough embedded reality. You have to take time to prepare questions that are meaningful to the ongoing relationship. You need someone experienced in the Socratic method of questioning to get deeper than just a surface level statement, which often points you in the wrong direction if no further investigation is made. All qualitative data developed internally needs to be checked with your customer to make sure your assumptions and past experience don’t lead you astray. (To learn more about what questions to pursue, click here for our free video series)

Qualitative data holds value for both you and your customer long before it is analyzed because the gathering begins developing that all-important relationship. Being present develops belief that the customer’s business is important to yours. That you are not going to force them to rely on impersonal automation, such as dumb chat bots, when something goes wrong that requires discussion. Instead, you’re going to prevent something from going wrong before it happens. And if something does squeak by, people are there to work through the problem with your customer.

Trust is built as you build your data set and your customer understanding.

Trust becomes much more important since much of today’s business relies on automation, which is fine when it is appropriately placed and targeted. But many of today’s customers, businesses or people, crave interpersonal relationships with those they work with frequently. Those relationships make for smoother business performance.

Don’t believe me? In that same Gallup B2B research, Gallup found that if a brand was considered to be easy to work with (knew what the customer required at various times in the purchasing and service cycles and was available to the customer), 82% of customers were fully engaged.

In contrast, if a brand was considered difficult to work with, only 1% of customers were fully engaged. And engagement means your customers stay with you.

Research also shows that 69% of customers at all times are looking for a reason to jump ship and that 80% of those will jump at the first transgression.

Business has changed, it’s no longer just by the numbers.

Key words and concepts: data, analysis, relationships, customer relationships, customer service, customer relationship management, engagement, Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, customers, automation, technology, tech, Process & Strategy Solutions

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is the president of Process & Strategy Solutions  The digital Performance Magic course for small and midsize businesses, to be released this Sept, helps owners, CEOs, and decision makers easily plot paths to growth by eliminating the internal chaos and improving performance customers pay for.


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