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Populating your CRM – What data to collect and how to collect the data?


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Quality customer data is the most essential component of a CRM and without effective customer data, you cannot make informed decisions. The bigger and relevant the database is, the effective your sales funnel becomes. In this post, I will cover on what data to collect and how to collect it effectively.

What data to store?

Communication details

    1. Customer name
    2. Contact details – email id, physical address, phone number
    3. Preferred mode of contact
    4. How was the customer acquired – Google search/social media/store visit/trade show.

You should readily get these from your signup form and could use the email id or phone number as the primary key for the record. This data is mainly used for communication and personalization of the communication.

Transaction details

    1. Items purchased along with their categories
    2. Value of the sale
    3. Time of purchase (will be used to compute frequency)
    4. Method of payment (Paypal, cash,check,credit card)
    5. In case of credit, how soon are the payments made.

This is got at the time of purchase. It is mainly useful to understand the customer’s purchase behavior. This data is useful to pre-populate the preferences and also to get analytics. It is also very useful for customer segmentation on value.

Engagement details

    1. Does the customer respond to the emails and other communication?
    2. What type of messages does the customer respond most often (fun/promotions/informational)?
    3. Previous emails, social media messages and other communication.
    4. Record of calls made to the help desk.

The engagement details can be got by plugging your communication channels with the CRM. It is essential to effectively support the customer and also to customize the interactions.

Profile details

    1. Birthday of the customer (used for special promotions on birthdays apart from using age for segmentation).
    2. Region (rural/urban & north/south) – this should be computed from the physical address in the form or can be got from the IP address used during sign up.
    3. Hobbies & Interests – hard to get, but can be useful for correct targeting of promotions.
    4. Income levels & family background – very hard to get, but could be gleaned from email interactions.
    5. Technology usage level – can be used for customer support.

You can get this at the time of sign up and can also slowly build up with the previous customer interactions. This data is very useful to segment the customers appropriately in needs-based segmentation.

Feedback details

    1. Survey results the customer has taken
    2. Complaints the customer has left
    3. The products that were returned by the customer
    4. Ratings the customer has left in the site, social media and elsewhere.
    5. Does the customer have a very positive, moderately positive or negative interaction towards the company.

This is useful for customer experience management. The data is got from various customer engagement initiatives such as surveys and support help desk.

How to collect the data?

You should explore every ethical method to get customer data. With a combination of incentives (fill up the form to get 10% discount) and better customization of preferences you can convince the customer to voluntarily give a bunch of data.
  1. Sign up forms.
  2. Messages from communication channels such as email – In B2B this is the most important source of customer data.
  3. Facebook connect and other social media connections through special apps.
  4. Surveys
  5. Competitions – you can start a competition in social media and can collect some personal details for it.
  6. Web analytics – this will help you track user’s browser environment, location and time spent on the site.
  7. Calls made to the help desk.
  8. Purchase transactions.

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