Even small businesses have the ability to gather significant types and amounts of relevant data. Yet many entrepreneurs and executive teams focus on areas other than data collection and analysis. After all, it’s easy for any team to get sidetracked with all the other aspects of day-to-day operations.
However, leveraging data can boost any company’s productivity and profitability. As the old saying goes, “Numbers don’t lie.” Neither does data. Therefore, as you move forward this year as an organization, consider how data can help you in several key areas.
1. Elevating the customer experience.
Customers demand personalization, not to mention convenience. One method to deliver a better overall customer experience (CX) for your target audiences is to delve into data. Specifically, evaluate and identify all the touchpoints you have with prospects and clients. Then, recoup data from those touchpoints to drill down into ways to make the CX increasingly wow-worthy.
What are some places to gather data? Start with your website. Make sure you’re looking beyond surface statistics like pageviews, though. A blog post with high page views may look like a winner on paper. In reality, it might be a dud in terms of link-throughs or conversion rates. Consequently, even though people are landing on the content, their CX isn’t benefiting you—or potentially them.
As you sift through your CX data, you never know what you’ll find. Some responses might surprise you, but be open to learning and bettering your processes based on the findings. For instance, let’s say your data feedback shows customers expect to reach live representatives almost immediately during “normal” office hours. As a result, you’d want your public-facing team to have reliable WiFi solutions to minimize customer waits or tech glitches.
2. Unclogging the sales pipeline.
You’ve probably heard your sales team complain about specific problems more than once. “We’re not getting qualified leads.” “The leads from source XYZ tend to ‘ghost’ us after the initial presentation.” “Every third quarter, our sales seem to drop off for no reason and it’s demoralizing.” As long as you’ve hired well, the issue probably isn’t your people. However, it might be the sales journey.
Most companies have some idea of their sales pipeline. That is, how leads come into the top of the funnel and where they go based on different factors. Analyzing various points in the pipeline can often unravel what’s causing drop-offs or lost sales. And you might not notice them without a little help from AI software.
The right software can use data to recommend the best times to perform sales and marketing functions. Case in point: Maybe customers from a certain region tend to buy at the end of the month. Yet customers from another area seem to make purchases at the beginning of the month. These tiny facts could revolutionize the way you sell and stop pipeline stalls.
3. Understanding and evaluating the competition.
Monitoring your competitors through robust data mining and analysis tools keeps you one step ahead. Not only will you know what the competition’s doing well, but you’ll know when they stumble. Yes, it can be challenging to know where to start with evaluating other businesses with big data. One place is on social networks.
Simple social listening software can assist you in finding out what’s happening in real time. Obviously, you should practice social listening on your own brand. Don’t ignore other brands in the process. The more you know what’s being said about your biggest competition, the faster you can take advantage of opportunities.
Let’s say your competition makes a faux pas. Social media lights up overnight thanks to irritated customer reviews. Your competitor’s best employees denounce their employer openly. Suddenly, brand sentiment has swung away from the competition, giving your company an open door. The faster you know—such as when you open your laptop at 7:00 a.m.—the faster you can respond. Or, you might want not to get into the fray immediately. Regardless, you won’t be blindsided.
4. Sourcing new employees and contractors.
You’re in a period of growth. Before you use traditional routes to find staffers or freelancers, think about using data-rich programs to help. Your goal is to find the right talent to put in your seats, and data mining can assist you.
In fact, professional recruiters routinely lean on software to do everything from sort through applications to reduce unconscious hiring bias. Even if you’re only planning to bring on people occasionally, or seasonally, using data can lead to better decisions. In the past, many hiring managers went with their first impressions. We now know that impressions can be flawed and based on things other than fact.
Consider this: Your gut instinct might be to hire Candidate M instead of Candidate Q. Everything tells you Candidate M is the right fit. Still, you crunch numbers and analyze indicators of past performance excellence in similar jobs. Unexpectedly, you find out that Candidate Q possesses more of the skills related to success in the position. At that point, you may want to reevaluate your original reaction to go with Candidate M.
5. Mitigating business risks.
Does your business have risks? Absolutely. Running any operation includes taking and accepting risks. Nevertheless, you don’t have to assume that all risks are unavoidable. Recovering data can help you develop and run models to determine procedural or operational risk.
As an example, big data could show exactly when you’re most apt to have lowered cybersecurity. This foreknowledge allows you to put plans in place to mitigate digital security threats. Big data could also run online simulations to lay out what would happen in the event of a major breach.
It’s not feasible to protect your business against every potential criminal attack on your systems. Yet it’s up to you to close all predictable loopholes. By running data-rich risk analyses periodically with your IT team, you can better position your brand. Plus, your feedback may drive protocols to minimize fallout after a cybersecurity threat or breach.
There’s little doubt that you have tons of data at your fingertips. In the coming months, strive to use it more thoughtfully and comprehensively. Making just a few changes based on your evaluations could have a positive impact on CX, employee engagement, and profitability.
Written by Callum Jackson