How to Use Data to Understand Your Customer Better by @RakheeGhelani

by Rakhee Ghelani | Featured Contributor

Last month I took you through 5 different ways to understand your customer better. What you should have now is a whole lot of information and data on your customers, but you may not feel like you know them any better. So how do you use this information to better understand what your customers want?

Here are my top tips on turning data into practical customer insights. But, before we start, don’t panic. Staring at a stack of customer surveys or numbers is enough to terrify even the toughest business person, but there is no reason to fear.

1. Take a Cue from Your Customers

By listening to what your customer are telling you, you will hear what it is that they like or don’t like about you. The trick in turning this into something meaningful for your customer is in actually hearing what they are saying. How many times did customers tell Henry Ford that they wanted their car in a color other than black before he actually listened? This feedback was a great opportunity for creating new product lines and opening up his market.

If customers say that they can never seem to get through to your phone number, then perhaps they are simply telling you to get another phone line or that you need more reception staff.

2. Change your Product Or Service to Meet Your Potential Customers Needs

When you look at tools like Google Analytics, you can find information such as which country your website visitors come from and which search terms they used to find your website. This is all information that you can use to help you market and service your customers better.

If you know that the majority of visitors to your website come from a country on the other side of the world but you don’t receive much business from them, it may be worth considering why. Perhaps it is important to be available to them when they are awake, so maybe a 24 hour helpline would encourage them to contact you or perhaps make your email address more prominent on the website so that they can reach you even when you’re closed.

Similarly, take a look at keyword searches as they tell you exactly what your potential customers are looking for. So if you find there are lot of people searching for black boxes, but you only sell white ones, then there is a great product opportunity for your business.

3. Identify Which Problems to Fix By Looking at the Process

If you receive the same complaint from several customers, they are telling you that something is not working for them and giving you the opportunity to fix it. When I worked for a bank, we took a look at our customer complaints and found that almost a quarter of our complaints came from customers saying that a discount had not been given to them, so we took a closer look.

We started at the start of the process chain by observing sales people, and found that they had correctly loaded the discount in the system. This meant that somehow they were disappearing at a later date. By following the process of who touched the customer order and entered information in the system, we found that three steps down the line another staff member was inadvertantly removing the discount. After some training the problem was fixed and along with it went a significant reduction in customer complaints.

The data didn’t tell us the problem, but it did highlight that there was an issue. So by looking at each step of the process we found the solution.

4. Market Better to Your Customers Through Segmenting

Segmenting your customers just means putting them into different categories. This could be based on what products they buy, or how old they are. The reason you do this is so that you can market to them better or tailor a product or service better for them. You may also choose to not service a customer segment at all (for example you may find that there is a group of customers who actually cost you more money).

So when you have a whole lot of data, take a look at it and pick out some big areas to look, such as segmenting your customers by age or by geography or by what type of product they purchase. If you can’t see anything interesting, then why not try and determine the profitability of each customer, who are your top 10% of customers? What do they look like?

By segmenting your customers into different categories, you can then work out which ones to focus on more in your marketing efforts. For example if you know that your younger customers tend to only purchase a little and very rarely, maybe it is worth not putting any marketing dollars towards attending that youth fair. With a limited marketing budget, customer segmentation can help you make much better decisions about where to spend it.

You don’t need to spend hours creating huge spreadsheets to glean information from your data, there are plenty of changes that you can make that will improve your customer’s experience and encourage them to purchase from you more often.

Photo Credit: DemoTutorials via Compfight cc


Rakhee Ghelani Customer Experience Specialist – Mumbai, India

RG High ResRakhee Ghelani is an Australian woman who abandoned her successful corporate career to move to India in 2011.  She now works as a freelance consultant, writer and entrepreneur in Mumbai. Her extensive skill set allows her to add value to businesses in industries as varied as travel, manufacturing and publishing.

Prior to leaving Australia, Rakhee was head of Customer Experience for ANZ Bank’s Mortgages division, responsible for over 850,000 customers. Customers don’t generally “like” banks or having a mortgage, so it was a challenging but rewarding role that also sparked her interest in helping other companies wow their customers. She believes customer experience extends far beyond how you speak to a customer in a retail store or on the phone, it is about understanding what they want and need, and getting it right every time.

Rakhee is also a travel writer and photographer, and a co-founder of Gourmet Pop-Up shop in Mumbai called Potluck Me. She has a few other entrepreneurial efforts in the pipeline and is currently writing her autobiography. An extensive traveler, you can follow Rakhee’s adventures across India and the world here:

Blog: Aussie Girl in India
Facebook: Rakhee Ghelani
Twitter:  @rakheeghelani 
Google Plus: Rakhee Ghelani
Instagram: @rakheeghelani
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