The Proper Care And Feeding Of Your Customer & Order Data – 5 Steps

“Information, that is imperfectly acquired, is generally as imperfectly retained.” – William Playfair, Scottish political economist and inventor of the time-series graph, 1786

Every day, your business is generating data. Data about itself. Data about your customers and your prospects. If you are like 99% of existing small and large companies alike, you are not using that data even close to the fullest extent possible to benefit your business.

To illuminate the path a bit for you, MindEcology has put together 5 steps to properly care for and feed your customer and transactional data:

1. Be sure you know which data you should be collecting. This means ANY customer or order data to which you currently – or could easily – have access. This includes customer names and addresses, products sold, transaction ($) amounts, web pages visited, web form inquiries received . . . anything that describes either the supply or the demand side of your business in data terms is fair game.

2. Taking Mr. Playfair’s lead, be sure that you are actively storing and organizing your data properly. This means storing your data in the right way such that it can later be accessed with relative ease. You also need to make sure that your data is error-free – or as error-free as possible. This can involve deleting bad records, correcting formatting issues, filling in missing values from individual records, and appending entire data fields.

3. Make your well-organized data easily accessible to the decision-makers in your company so that they can analyze and make use of it. Your marketing and operations teams alike can reap the benefits of access to good, clean data. Leverage a database program, MS Excel, a dashboard application, or any software that you feel comfortable using.

4. Ask hard-hitting business questions of your data. Start by deciding what you want to know more about. Which business decisions keep you up at night? Chances are, your data has some very powerful things to tell you about decisions, large and small. And, it will, if you faithfully follow each of these steps.

5. Finally, with the business questions you have asked in mind, it’s time to analyze your data and to apply the results to your decision-making process. After all, raw data just sitting in a database, ignored day in and day out, might as well not be there at all. Be sure to consider the different analytical techniques that you have available to you. The results of the analysis itself can and should feed back into #1 above.

If you properly care for and feed your data, you will be giving yourself a leg up on the majority of your competitors who continue to make daily, crucial decisions while ignoring the mountain of data right underneath their cubicles.