The Growing Importance of Customer Data Mining for SMEs

data mining is game changer for small businesses

Big data is changing the direction of small and medium sized businesses. They can use big data for many purposes. However, the value of their big data strategies will vary considerably.

Using big data to get a better understanding of your customers is important. Wired author Mike Dickey has written a great article on 10 ways that big data can be used to get a more thorough understanding of your customers. Unfortunately, not all SMEs use this data effectively.

There are two factors that affect the value of a company’s SME customer big data strategy:

  • The quality and volume of the customer data the organization has acquired
  • The strategy the company employs for leveraging this data

Customer data can be very valuable, but it needs to be utilized effectively. Fortunately, there are a number of ways companies can make the most of their customer data.

Pillars of a Solid Customer Data Strategy

The right big data strategy can be very valuable for companies of all sizes. Woolworth’s used a big data strategy to get a better understanding of customer buying habits. This campaign helped them increase revenue by $20 million.

However, large corporations aren’t the only ones that can benefit. Tech-savvy SMEs can boost their value by investing in customer data acquisition and monetization as well.

As the number of small and medium sized enterprises grows at an unprecedented rate, maintaining good customer service is key to success. However, all the factors associated with this require a much deeper level of understanding, which all businesses must know to succeed. The way in which SMEs deal with their customer base, their customer needs and consumer needs, is what impacts their turnover, the client base and the maintenance of both of these.

If you are an SME then you will most likely find that the importance of knowing your customer and understanding customers will be of key benefit to you. In this article, we’ll talk about some tips on how to build your business into something that your customer needs – starting from your business web design and development.

How do you understand the customer’s needs?

You have probably heard the old adage “know your customer to succed.” But how exactly do you achieve this in order to use it to your advantage?

If you are selling something to the public, most likely you are already well tuned in with your demographics, such as who you’re selling to and who you’re buying from. You know your target audience, which is the first step in understanding customers. Their buying habits, another key element that is vital to know and when do they buy, are examples of trends that influence their consumption patters. The times of the year and the latest product trends are also important, because they influence your budget and help you figure out what things you need to do to stay on top of your business.

The next step is understanding customer needs. If you have a shop, this may be easier to keep on top of market research and understanding their needs.

If you have an online presence – which you should – it may feel a little as if you are unable to gather the research you need but understanding their needs online, could come by making sure that your website is found online to the right target market.  For this purpose, you need to  improve your SEO and make sure that your website appears among the top results on the search engine search pages.

Why is it important to identify changes in customer preferences?

If your customer base has not changed for many years, there could be subtle changes in preferences that can be triggered by either the economy, the trends of the season or moment, the need for upgrades or that the customer has just moved on. If you fall short of catching up to these trends, you’re likely to see a decline in sales and this could affect your business in the long run.

If your business is e-commerce, you may find that your customers wish to start shopping via mobile, which may mean you need to upgrade your website to make it e-commerce friendly across all mediums. Have your website better accessible by improving SEO efforts and giving customers easy access through exceptional website UI/UX. 

This is why keeping on top of your niche industry news and changes in business in this area can help you plan better for the future, including understanding business at its core and knowing who is your customer, these together will ensure you can keep up with buying in or promoting/selling relevant products which is only found when identifying customer preferences and trends.  Meeting a customer will allow you to chat, and learn any of their trends also.

How do you achieve customer satisfaction?

This is an age-old question that certainly haunts every single SME. Are you hands on with your customers? Have you managed to achieve a community with your business and is this what helps drive sales? Or do you focus mostly online and perhaps your traffic is driven by social media campaigns or ads via these platforms? Just making the effort to try and understand them is key, talk to them, keep a friendly and open relationship with them, every customer likes to feel special and as if their needs are catered for.

If this is something that you lack because your business is micro, then investing in CRM may help. If you need a CRM (customer relationship management) this may mean you will have to look at new campaigns and adopt a different approach to how you communicate with customers. Looking at the elements that could help your business push forward is by identifying customer needs, and to anticipate the needs of others, which will give you a better overview for a six-month plan.

It’s vital to ensure that you are aware of your size and budget; if your company is local and operates only within the vicinity of your town, then door to door, leaflets and smaller campaigns could help drive the business your way and give you a better overview of your client. It is known as lead generation tools and this stretches way beyond finding out about your local custom, but rather also looks at online presence and many companies and apps can assist you with this.

Getting to know your client will allow you to become better and more considerate in all changes in your business.

What are your customer expectations?

You can only ever get as much out of your customer and clients as you put in. if you are not known to many people, you can’t grow. If you expect your customer to return weekly, monthly, then you have to know why they will return and what makes you stand out from the crowd. This customer expectation encompasses a large range of factors pertaining to the product, service or business as a whole.

What have the customers learned, what is their individual experience as you as a company, as well as their experience with your staff. If you believe your staff are lacking in certain areas, then this could hinder the experience and therefore lower expectations.

Indeed, your understanding of your client base is what will be very important. How to be more understanding? Talk more. Learn more. Does my business know your client? Learn your competitors clients too. Soak up the knowledge.

Which is more important wants or needs?

As a company, your focus is on sales, leads and deals, and looking at customer service techniques and looking at your budget and sales income. So, if you want to grow your business in a healthy and organic way, relating back to your customers’ needs and knowing who is a customer and who is just a one-time buyer, you may find that this is down to you.

If you need your business to grow, this could be that your numbers are falling in all areas and you are desperate to get in the sales; which truthfully can be a damaging way to grow because customer needs and customer knowledge is going to have to be at the core of your business from day one and you will find the implementation of this difficult and slower if you didn’t begin from its inception.

Leveraging Customer Data is Crucial

Every SME needs to get the most value of their customer data. They can find that this will significantly increase the ROI of their marketing campaigns.

Annie Qureshi
Annie is a passionate writer and serial entrepreneur. She embraces ecommerce opportunities that go beyond profit, giving back to non-profits with a portion of the revenue she generates. She is significantly more productive when she has a cause that reaches beyond her pocketbook.