In 2022, the question isn’t whether businesses are using data but whether leaders and employees are using it effectively. With information flowing in from so many sources, it’s not uncommon to lose track of what you have. Knowing the why behind the data you’re collecting will help your business leverage it more effectively.
With a solid data strategy in place, companies can discover emerging customer needs and streamline operations. Managers and direct reports will make quicker, more informed decisions. Effective use of information can also lead to new revenue sources and increased levels of employee engagement.
How to Use Data Effectively in Business
If your business hasn’t nailed down effective data use, it’s not too late to start. Here are four ways to do it.
1. Optimize Data Loads
In recent years, the data lifecycle has become much more complex. When enterprises have more and more data sources coming in, there is the need for more data pipelines to manage that data.
Data pipelines are critical for businesses looking to eliminate manual steps and confirm data quality. They automate the actions involved in transforming data. Optimizing the performance of your data pipelines will increase visibility and refine the data flow. In doing so your business will receive the best quality data, ensuring you don’t have to make costly decisions based on faulty data loads down the road.
2. Improve Customer Relationship Management
When you lose a customer, it feels personal. No matter what level your position is within the company, customer churn can sting. Even though some client loss is normal and healthy, you wonder what you or the company can do better.
With centralized software, analytics, and sentiment tools, you can develop a more comprehensive understanding of your clients’ needs and preferences. Customer data usually flows into a business from multiple touchpoints, including online interactions, in-store or app purchases, and service calls. You probably also have insights from loyalty programs, surveys, and emails you send out.
Businesses can leverage information from these sources to discover which products and services resonate with different market segments. Survey data can help reveal why a new product isn’t taking off or provide ideas for making it more appealing. Email unsubscribe rates expose whether your content and messaging are relevant to the audience. You might also find out you’re sending too many messages, one of the top reasons customers unsubscribe.
Whatever the data shows, you can use it to fine-tune ad campaigns and match offers to past purchase behaviors. You might need to refine your buyer personas, reallocate your media budgets, or make service improvements. Combining data sources and analytics will help increase retention rates by giving you a clearer picture of your customers’ expectations.
3. Plan and Forecast Resource Allocation
Sales leaders typically use numbers from the previous year to determine current growth targets. They may use a standard benchmark, such as 10%, to calculate current goals for each territory. However, data that isn’t gathered in real time can lead to unrealistic demands on employees.
Market conditions and trends could be vastly different between territories. While some sales reps can easily beat their goals, others find meeting them nearly impossible. Using real-time field data helps reveal shifts in sales activities and leads to more attainable objectives.
Managers could discover the need to re-engineer or reshape sales territories to make them more equitable. In the meantime, leaders can adjust and redefine short-term goals that don’t include the standard benchmarks. Real-time data can also reveal a need to shift advertising dollars and targeting to underperforming sales districts. Current feedback might show the need for more boots on the ground and miscellaneous adjustments that will increase ROI.
Incorporating real-time data and front-line feedback into revenue and resource planning identifies missed opportunities. The practice increases flexibility, allowing you to shift gears and respond to what customers and employees need now. And you won’t be making decisions that reflect and perpetuate stagnation.
4. Increase Employee Engagement
When one employee raises a concern or suggests an idea for improving a process, it’s easy to dismiss. That person could be speaking from a skewed or highly subjective perspective. Other workers might not speak up to support their colleague’s sentiments for numerous reasons. They may have found a way to work around the issue or fear they’ll be opening a can of worms.
The problem is, ignoring such feedback can result in employee disengagement. That disconnection, in turn, leads to absenteeism, reduced productivity, less innovation, and turnover. Individual managers often receive the blame. However, it’s usually the ways leaders manage processes, change, communication, and talent development that are the problem.
Anonymous employee surveys and feedback are methods organizations can use to gather information and act on it to improve engagement. Exit interviews may reveal some nuggets but may not be as accurate or insightful. Some employees may provide suggestions or simply air grievances during performance reviews.
It’s usually the everyday behaviors of employees that can clue managers in. Increased apathy (or even animosity), lateness, reduced performance, and fewer contributions could signal a problem. Combining your observations with survey data will help determine the source(s) of disengagement and suggest ways to implement corrections.
The easy part about data is collecting it. It’s not as simple to figure out whether the information you’re acting on is the right data for that decision. Determining what your company hopes to accomplish with the information it gathers will help you use it effectively. By aligning data with specific objectives, you’ll improve external and internal relationships, resource allocation, and ROI.