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Using accurate data to understand customer behavior

Richard Jones Archive

One of the greatest uses for data is in understanding customer behavior in the most sophisticated way possible - you want to have perfect knowledge of who your target consumers are, where they're located, where they're going, why they're interested and exactly what makes them tick. As the business world grows and becomes more fiercely competitive, this endeavor becomes all about data. Companies want more, more, more.

There's a common impulse among chief marketing officers and data scientists to focus on ballooning their databases. "Big data" is one of the world's hottest buzzwords, and it seems that no data is ever big enough. According to Forbes, the real secret to business success might be a counterintuitive one - shrinking that "big data." Instead of focusing on quantity, make a real effort to increase data quality. Greater precision is the real key to understanding customers.

Understanding customer behavior
The value of data is in how it helps you understand your customers - but that doesn't necessarily mean bigger is better. Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at commerce platform provider Hybris Software, explained to Forbes that a new approach is necessary during an era in which consumers demand a more seamless customer experience.

"Across the world, there is a tectonic cultural shift redefining customer behavior," Walker explained. "Today's customers are doing more, demanding more and engaging with companies on their own terms. Businesses are being forced to rapidly change the tactics they use to reach out to and serve customers as they come to grips with the new rules of the road. What's more, the way in which the new customer interacts can be seemingly at random across a growing array of touch points."

He elaborated that the customer experience is no longer something that can be "defined" or "managed." It's dynamic - subject to constant change. As such, organizations (and their databases) need to stay nimble.

Why precision matters
Having a good handle on customer behavior requires a great level of sophistication. People today are always on the move, both literally and figuratively - they're changing their locations and their consumption habits as well.

If someone's address changes, you need to be on the ball and get their updated contact information right away, lest you lose touch with a valued customer. If their intentions or shopping habits evolve, you should be on top of that, too. Staying up to speed in today's economy proves quite the challenge, and accurate data plays a key role in overcoming it.