What’s In YOUR Customer Record?

Or perhaps I should say: This is not your father’s customer record.

I guess it all depends on your pop culture touchpoint. But it all boils down to this:

The requirements of the new 360 degree view of the customer include much more than most companies probably collect. The basic information they have been depending on is no longer sufficient but nobody has thought to see if more valuable information is available. “It’s just how we’ve always done it.”

But how much useful business intelligence can you wring out of account data, order data, credit data, service data, and marketing data? How easy is it to create a picture of the customer with these numbers and possibly the information from a service call? Will it tell you how the customer’s taste is changing? Does it give much advance notice about what will appeal next?

All of it is valuable information that you need to do business, but in order to delight the customer you need information that tells you more about her buying choices, especially the ones she is contemplating in the future rather than those of the past.

It is now possible to collect unstructured data from social media sources:

  • the contents of comments, forum discussions, blogs
  • other content created by that customer
  • profile information from various social media sources

Further online research could turn up information about who in a business or household does a majority of the purchasing, or turn up competitive intelligence.

These are some of the places you can get information on your prospective customers. Get a jump on competitors by getting your new customer record in place and finding the gold first.

Couple of caveats though, before you start your data mining operation:

  1. Be sure you don’t step over the line and become a stalker. I always feel a little creeped out when a company has a piece of information that, while in the public domain, still feels like a breach of privacy.
  2. Decide beforehand what information would be valuable and collect only that. Don’t just strip mine the internet and hoard a bunch of data because it might be useful. This doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the collection now and again, but sometimes more is just more.

So stake your claim and start panning for the gold in the internet stream. better do it quick, before everyone else hears about it and starts the customer rush of 2010.

Many thanks to Paul Greenberg’s post for Destination CRM.

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