Most businesses are now operating online, and consumers have a vast array of choices literally at their fingertips when purchasing goods and services. Competition is tougher than ever in the online market, and companies must quickly provide and even foresee the customers’ needs and wants to gain their attention and loyalty. It is crucial for businesses today to be client-centric.
There are many advances in technology that enable companies to set up customer feedback programs. Many types of software do surveys on the website, through e-mail, and on various social media platforms. These gather customer demographics, elicit their reaction to the products and services of the company, and inquire about their preferences.
Data is essential because the company needs to know its market and the changes in the market to be able to respond accordingly and promptly. Listening to customers must not be just a one-time survey but must instead be an ongoing effort of the company.
To gain the trust of consumers, a company must show that it is implementing advanced security measures to keep their data safe and private. While there is no U.S. federal law on data privacy and security, there are state data privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA). Both are more lenient, though than the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
U.S. companies who pursue or collect data related to people in the (EU) must be aware that they are subject to the GDPR and its corresponding fines. This can be up to €20 million or four percent of the erring company’s global revenue, whichever amount is higher.
The GDPR only allows data collection and processing if there is explicit consent from the subject. Furthermore, it must be necessary for any of the following: for a contract to which the subject is a party, for a legal obligation, for saving a life, for carrying out an official function, for a task that is in the public interest, or for the company’s legitimate interest subject to the rights and freedoms of the subject.
The GDPR recognizes the subject’s rights to information about the data collection and its use, to object, to restrict data processing, to access the data, and to rectify or erase the data. The subject also rights regarding data portability, profiling, and automatic decision-making.
Data processing must be legal and impartial, with transparency to the subject and with adequate security, confidentiality, and integrity. The company that collects and processes data must keep it accurate and updated, limit data collection to the minimum required for its specified purpose, use it only for that purpose, and store it only for the period required for that purpose. The company that collects and processes data must demonstrate full compliance with the GDPR.
An article on Forbes predicts that by 2023, about 40 percent of compliance to data privacy and security regulations will rely mainly on technology and artificial intelligence (AI) since there is a massive amount of data to handle. AI can immediately identify and destroy data that is no longer needed, thereby saving on storage costs.
Data Analytics and Synergy
Once data is in, companies must ensure that data analytics focus on how to increase profitability. Insights will show what consumers want in the product or service, how they want these served to them, what channels they prefer, and their differences based on demographics.
Product development teams must incorporate consumer inputs when designing improvements in the company’s goods or services. Pricing calibration must include consumer preferences and the competition. Marketing teams must be up to date on where the target markets congregate online and what types of posts attract their engagement. Sales and delivery teams must enhance the customer experience based on feedback.
Innovations in technology can use data to personalize the client approach. When sending out e-mails, companies must not just change the name of the addressee but instead use AI to craft the message based on the customer’s previous behavior and preferences. When a returning guest visits the website, he or she must see products or services based on previous searches or purchases.
Personalization can also extend to loyalty rewards for better customer retention. For instance, the discount offer that a returning customer sees on the website can vary based on the number and value of that customer’s previous purchases.
More advanced data analytics technology can do predictive analysis to anticipate trends. This is crucial to product development planning as well as to marketing.
Listen and Learn
Data collection and data analytics are all about listening to consumers and learning from them. Companies must know the right questions to ask. The goal is to find out what you know you do not know, as well as what you do not know that you do not know.
The right analysis will bring out not just the information expected but also insights that were not directly sought. These are even more valuable and can generate further market research and, in turn, more profitable data.