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3 ways to get maximum value out of customer data

It's no secret at this point that a high level of emphasis on data collection and analytics should be a pivotal part of every business' strategy. For any corporate leader that wants to better understand consumers, improve marketing strategies and lock in more sales, it's vital to have a comprehensive approach to gathering data and using it.

There are a lot of questions to answer throughout this process, though. One of them pertains to data quality - it can be difficult for companies to ensure the information they're working with meets a high standard for accuracy and usability, especially when they're trying to work quickly and avoid wasting any time or money. In this regard, it's important for companies to make efficient use of customer data a top priority.

Perhaps the most important, overarching question is this - what's the best way to get real value from data? After all, every company out there is putting significant effort and funding into analytics, and it's not enough just to be one of those faces in the crowd. To really make an impact, you need to have a strategy that gets better results than anyone else. You need to do more with less.

So how? According to Business 2 Community, there are a couple of different ways to look at the question. One possible approach is to focus on customers and their preferences, and use data to give people what they want. The news source cited a recent study by consulting form Emnos that found that 83 percent of people are concerned about retailers not providing them sufficient information and resources.

There are opportunities to improve in this area. B2C also cited research from data insight company ClickFox, which discovered that about 32 percent of consumers are "most willing to share personal data if they feel loyal to a brand." There's definitely an opening for companies to improve their data strategies.

"We look for ways to infuse the customer experience with data," said Jeannine Haas, chief marketing officer at Avis Budget Group, according to the news source. "It helps us organize our contact strategy, which in turn increases [its] effectiveness. The most critical achievement of the project may be the 'single view' of the customers. Information is consolidated into a web-based dashboard that the front-line customer-facing employees can access."

Along those lines, here are three ways to get more out of a customer data strategy.

Providing useful information
The most advantageous thing about data-driven customer relationships is they can help customers find the information that matters most to them. Whether it's about what products they might like, how they can purchase them cheaply or what technology they should use, people always appreciate useful knowledge. Companies can use their data to explore how to make their customers more informed.

Solving people's problems
Is there a specific problem that consumers have that makes it difficult for them to grow into more loyal customers? Are your products too expensive, or are they not finely tuned enough to people's needs? The whole point of selling a product is to satisfy consumers' tastes. Gathering better data can help gauge what those tastes are, making it easier to connect with people on a more authentic level.

Building a positive, sharing environment
Companies can best take advantage of data when they're working in a free-flowing environment, with information moving seamlessly on both sides. When companies engage easily with customers, and the customers willingly respond, everyone benefits. The primary goal should be to nurture an environment where everyone shares knowledge freely, working together to improve both the customer experience and a company's bottom line.

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