3 ways of using data to build more authentic customer relationships

Thanks to CRM, web and social media analytics, insight communities and customer surveys, it has never been easier to collect large amounts of information about your visitors and customers. All this data can enable your team and stakeholders to get better insight about your customers and help them make better business decisions.

But collecting mounds and mounds of data comes with problems. Customers today are more aware of privacy and security concerns, which means that companies need to be more careful of how they collect and use customer data. Survey response rates are also plummeting, making it more difficult to get valuable customer feedback.

The solution is not to stop gathering data; rather, companies should rethink how they use it. Here are three ways you can use the data you already have to strengthen, rather than compromise, customer relationships.

Provide real value

A popular saying goes, “if the service is free, you are the product being sold.” In other words, people are increasingly aware of the way social media networks and other websites sell their data to advertisers. No wonder then that when it comes to sharing their data willingly with brands and organizations, customers are growing sceptical.

According to a recent survey done in the UK by ICLP, 71% of respondents felt like they did not receive value from the data they shared with brands. Signing up for a mailing list is not enough anymore, as everyone is swamped with emails every day. To convince customers to give you something as simple as an email address, you need to provide offers, content or information that is both relevant and useful.

Providing real value begins with finding out what your customers really want. Engage with your customers directly to understand their pain points and  what they expect from their relationship with your brand.

Become a data source yourself

The old adage says that it’s better to give than to receive-and this philosophy might also apply to your customers.

According to Using Analytics to Improve Customer Engagement, a study from MIT, companies that share data externally uncover business value by building their influence. Moreover, B2B companies who share their data with their customers reaped the most benefits from their analytics activities.

The report itself provides more details: “Organizations that share their data externally, for instance, report an increase in their influence with groups they share with, including customers (86%), vendors (72%) and even competitors (75%).”

This seems strange: after all knowledge is power. But, as the report shows, this data can be useful to your customers. For instance, “adopting an external orientation” helped the technology Lenovo present the sharing of data as an immediate benefit to their customers.

Share back intelligence to your customers

Customers are just as interested in the intelligence you gather from your data as you are. In an interview with MarTechSeries, our CEO Scott Miller describes this relationship-based approach:

“Insight communities powered by Vision Critical help brands seek insight from their customers on a consistent basis and share back privileged intelligence that customers value. This brings them back to the branded experience more frequently and helps them feel more appreciated, respected, and valued. Not only does this model create a more thoughtful exchange of information, the accuracy of results can be validated and improved over time.”

As Miller points out, customer centricity is not about finding out more about your customers so you can sell them more things. It is about putting what customers value at the centre of every decision the company makes. Customers value information and intelligence just as much as brands do. If customers understand your brand better, they are more likely to identify with it and come back to it for their purchases.

3 ways of using data to build more authentic customer relationships


Consumers are increasingly aware of the value of their own data. They go to greater lengths to protect their data from unwanted use. If you want people to share their data with you, you should provide equal value in return. Value can exist in the form of personalized incentive programs, but sharing back intelligence with those who choose to share with you provides the most benefits to companies.

In the end, a reciprocal relationship with your customers will encourage them to more willingly provide feedback, share their data with you and, more importantly, do business with you in the long term.

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