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Examining data can help make companies more customer-centric

Paul Newman

June 12, 2013

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Given the increasingly competitive nature of today's business world, many companies are working to improve in the arena of customer centricity. It can be incredibly difficult to ensure the long-term loyalty of consumers in an era when the economy is unstable and prices are volatile, and so to earn customers' favor, companies must make an extra effort to understand the people who patronize them and uncover exactly what special features they desire.

According to Wired, big data capability is what separates shrewd companies from struggling ones in terms of customer centricity. In order to provide the best possible service, firms must use large amounts of digital information to hone in on exactly what consumers want and how best to provide it. Andy MacMillan, senior vice president of Salesforce's Data.com, argued that data can help companies make more intelligent decisions about their customers' needs.

"In every interaction, customers generally know what they need to either make a purchase or resolve a service inquiry," MacMillan wrote. "Data provides sales and service professionals the insight they need in order to create a positive experience and interaction with the customer. The right data delivered to your workforce at the right time can be the difference between a lost sale and a win or a negative experience with your brand and a happy customer."

By collecting as much information as possible and working diligently to maintain data quality, companies can make better decisions. Specifically, there are a few types of data that can help.

Traditional data
An IBM CMO study in 2011 noted that nearly 90 percent of the data in the world has been created in the last two years. This means companies have an incredibly heavy volume of simple information that can influence their decision-making - consumer spending trends, customer service information and more.

Social data
By gleaning data collected from social media comments, companies can take input directly from their consumers about what works and what doesn't in customer service. It can be difficult to collect all this information in a manner that's efficient, ethical and ultimately useful, but it can pay off if done properly.

Demographic data
Where are people from? How old are they? How much money do they have to spend? How tech-savvy are they? All of this information can help companies understand their clienteles better.

Customer centricity is vital to companies if they want to earn people's business long-term. Data can help make that vision a reality.

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