What is Customer Data and why do I need it?

Having data on your customers means that you’re able to understand them and track their behaviour. Different businesses will have different data requirements. Let’s start off by thinking about the type of data that is perhaps available to you.

I should caveat at this point that holding and using customer data is regulated. To learn more about the laws of data protection read this.

Transactional data will show you an overview of what’s happening in your business on a day to day basis. Think; #of transactions, footfall, sales, etc.

Personal data will tell you who is doing each transaction. Tying data back to an individual customer enriches your data and allows you to make better business decisions. It also, if you choose too, allows you to better communicate with your customers.

Data can come in many shapes and sizes… think of Amazon. A website with X million products for sale, Y #of customer accounts and Z #of searches per day! Managing this amount of data is perhaps a little out of our league but imagine the data storage and processing power they’d need!

For us, here in, “I’m not Amazon land…” we want to teach you some customer data basics.

Transactional data

This data is the one your most likely to have easiest access too… plus you own this data, yay!

Every time a customer comes to your store and completes a transaction you’ll know:

  • What day it was
  • What time of day it was
  • How many items they bought
  • How much they spent
  • How they paid (cash/card)

Let’s pretend your a hair salon; this information can help you to understand when your busiest days of the week are, which effects staff levels or if you need/want to consider changing your opening hours etc.

Whether customers bought additional products from you, and therefore how much stock you need to buy, or if products are selling, perhaps stylists need training in how to sell, or a promotion to sell more?

Their total spend – are you making enough to cover all your business expenses? What is the average value of a transaction? Are some of your customers spending more than others?

Payment method, if your customers love to pay on card make sure you have the right payment options in place.

Depending on the sophistication of your till system you might even know more…

  • Which stylist completed the work?
  • The treatments/cut that the customer had?
  • Which specific products were bought?

These will enrich the knowledge of you business even further.

Personal data 

This one gets us at Sweat Space pretty excited, it’s my bread and butter and where I spent over half of my marketing career. I wanted to take a moment to tell you why… if you’re not interested, skip to the next paragraph.

Understanding your customer and managing customer data well in a business is quite literally a game changer. I’ve seen business grow in both £ value and customer satisfaction because they decided that putting their customers first was important. The best way to put customers first in  any business is to get to know them. While it’s not practical to meet all of your customers face to face for every transaction and to ask them why they bought from you today and not someone else, we can use customer data to get to know them and that helps us infer why. And if you do have any other questions, market research is always an option. So, for me, any business that commits to getting to know their customer and act on what they find goes to the top of my list.

Anyway… personal data is data that allows you to identify a customer, this can be anything unique:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Membership/ account number

Once you can identify a customer you can link all of their transactions to that individual customer. This is when your data potential hits the big time.

The exact data you collect on your customers depends on the business your in and why your collecting it. If your a car garage you want to know what car I drive? when my MOT is due? how many cars I own? if I prefer my car to be collected? or my MOT’s at the weekend? You don’t need to know my shoe size or my dietary requirements.

Common data points might be:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Data of birth (if you intend to use it)
  • Gender (if this in important to your business, perhaps in fashion etc)

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