Benefits of Gathering Customer Information: How to Build Your CRM

At its heart, customer relationship management is simply an effort to better market your products based on shoppers’ preferences. Collecting basic customer information and data allows businesses to reward loyalty, stay in direct communication, remarket, and gain valuable feedback.

Of course, the internet and the big data revolution have given retail CRM a more insidious reputation. Indeed, some of it is creepy. And a couple of the big players have in part ruined it for the rest of us. But in reality, most efforts by businesses to collect customer data are mutually beneficial: it increases your business’s sales and improves the shopping experience for your customers.

So let’s break this topic down into three parts:

  1. The type of customer data that businesses should collect
  2. A few of the ways that SMBs can collect the information
  3. Benefits of gathering customer information and building your CRM system

Types of Customer Information Your Business Should Collect

The array of valuable customer data out there is surprisingly broad. Again, it’s basically anything that shows you what your shoppers want and how they engage with your business. The secondary effects of gathering this data enable you to run strategic promotions and target your marketing, but it all stems from this starting point.

Like many aspects of business operations, the internet has made a massive impact on this field. Not only does it make data collection much easier, but consumers are also just spending more money and time shopping. 

But with such a glut of data available, it’s important to determine which pieces are the most critical to gather and examine. After all, you want the data to provide valuable insights into your business, allowing you to make better decisions. So let’s examine a few important categories of customer data.

1. Purchase History

Gathering shopper purchase history allows you to know what items they buy and how frequently they buy them. Like most of these data points, individual shopping histories are most valuable when paired with other information. 

For instance, it would be useful to know when certain customers of a specific demographic are shopping with you. If you have a coffee shop or bakery, you may want to change the menu on certain days of the week or times of the day. For general retail, this information could help you set up promotional pricing or in-store event planning. There are thousands of ways that this information could benefit your store’s operations.

2. Multiple Lines of Communication

Adding customer contact info, like phone number, email address, and mailing address opens the door for different lines of communication down the road. And it’s great to diversify your marketing channels. Email marketing is a valuable resource, for example, but many younger consumers rarely use the service. Reaching these potential customers through SMS marketing would be more productive.

Another way to foster more passive communication is by getting customers to follow your social media accounts. Incentivize likes and follows on any relevant accounts and use this avenue as a way to touch base with past customers and remind them to come back.

Gather information as basic as a name and phone number also allows you to reach out to customers to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchase. Most shoppers won’t complain, so it’s good to be proactive to be sure you can remedy the situation if they are unhappy.

3. Shopping Preferences

Knowing more in-depth data into your customers’ preferences will help guide your ordering, pricing, promotions, and shelving. These are integral aspects of running a smooth business so giving yourself an upper hand will go a long way. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Average transaction value
  • Time spent in store
  • Discount versus full-priced purchases
  • Paired items
  • Seasonal shopping

4. Basic Demographics

Knowing some of the basics on your customer base is quite helpful. Your staff can enter the information into your POS system or the shoppers can self-report. You never want to pry too much, but painting a fuller picture is a great way to boost your CRM system. Below are a few categories worth adding to your customer data:

  • Financial data (at least, how much they spend)
  • Gender
  • Role in household
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Neighborhood

While it’s not a great idea to pry too deeply, add data that is appropriate and useful for your business.

5. Keep an Organized Record Through Your CRM

With all of these, keeping a detailed, accessible, and organized system behind it is the most important step to building your customer data.

A robust customer relationship management system is the key behind this. Your POS system should provide a user-friendly platform to enter customer data with each transaction. Not only will it automatically track all transactions with date and time, amount, number of items, promotional pricing, and location, but it can prompt your staff to enter additional information into customer profiles.

For more robust options, your point of sale should be able to integrate with third-party CRM systems.

6. Collect Reviews and Shopping Experience

Reviews online and in-store customer feedback provide several benefits to businesses.

As we’ve covered before, building a base of reviews is important for your online reputation. Strong reviews increase your brand’s awareness and trustworthiness

But reviews and feedback also allow you to better cater your business toward existing customers. If you hear that shoppers are regularly demanding certain items or complaining about a price, use this information to make any necessary changes. 

Businesses can also use feedback to encourage customers to leave additional data, like basic contact information or demographics. 

7. Find Out How New Shoppers Found Your Store

Your CRM is meant to help you both improve the shopping experience for your existing customers as well as attract new customers.

A great way of doing this is by asking shoppers how they found you. Most businesses have varied marketing channels and spend different percentages of their budget on each. In order to allocate this budget most effectively it’s important to know which outlets work best.

You can also tie this data in with future perspective on lifetime value of customers. Perhaps certain channels are bringing you more reliable, long-term shoppers that boost their overall value.

Ways for Businesses to Collect Customer Data

So now that you have an idea of some of the types of data that are worth collecting, let’s look at some of the best ways to gather the information. It’s important to pursue a cohesive strategy but equally critical that you don’t annoy or upset customers by being too invasive or aggressive. As mentioned above, the first step to building your CRM system is through your point of sale.

Every point of sale system should come with a built-in customer relationship management system to help you get started. The POS is the final point of contact a business has with the customer. It’s also an unavoidable point of interaction – unless you offer self-checkout – between the guest and an employee. So it’s important to take advantage of this part of the shopping experience. Make sure that your point of sale makes it easy for associates to enter and store customer data. This should be tied to your loyalty program, too. KORONA makes these easy with a point-based loyalty program and fields for demographic and contact information. These will be automatically tied to customer profiles and all data will be compiled as they shop with you over the years.

For businesses that require more robust CRM systems, your POS software must integrate with third-party CRM systems. KORONA integrates with several, including bLoyal. bLoyal offers a powerful loyalty solution for various business niches including wineries, breweries, hospitality, travel, and health and wellness. They are highly customizable to provide the best fit for your business.

Running email surveys or asking for easy feedback on eCommerce channels is another great way to build your CRM. Leave open-ended questions to give your a deeper look into the customer experience. You can even go a little old-fashioned and put out a suggestion box or cards. Some shoppers will still appreciate the gesture. While it’s not as convenient as digital options, the data can still be inputted into your system.

Gathering as much information as possible is also aided by your employees. They need to ask the right questions and do it in a friendly manner. Go through adequate training with each new staff member to ensure that all efforts to gather customer data are done in an appropriate and friendly manner.

The Benefits of a CRM System for Small Business

So what’s the point of going through all this trouble? After all, it takes a lot of work to compile substantial information about your customer base. But it will pay off in the long-run with increased sales and a more successful business. Here are a handul of most important benefits of CRM systems.

Build Loyalty

Successful loyalty programs are a crucial aspect of keeping your customer coming back often. They’re fun, interactive, and rewarding. Plus, they often incentivize shoppers to spend more with each transaction. Weather you’re just creating a simple point loyalty program or offering a more powerful solution, a great loyalty program will boost your store’s business.

Increase Lifetime Value of Shoppers

It’s always more ideal to keep an existing customer than constantly having to attract new ones. Marketing can be expensive and using your CRM to draw back lapsed shoppers is much more cost-effective.

By doing so, you will also increase the lifetime value of each shopper. Such long-term data is important to consider when planning your budget.

Improve Your Marketing ROI

Likewise, a CRM system will make each marketing dollar spent go a little further, meaning you’ll help your return on investment. Many marketing avenues are expensive, so it’s important that they bring your business money. Taking advantage of your customer relationship management system will add to each shopper’s value and make your marketing efforts more worthwhile.

Learn More About Your Products

Use your CRM and customer feedback to learn more about each of your products. It’s a great way to analyze your inventory and figure out what sells well and when it sells well. Additionally, you can gain insight into items that pair together, helping you figure out promotions and rewards down the road.

Get the Right POS for Your CRM System

Your CRM will only go as far as your point of sale allows. Make sure that your POS includes a basic management system, but also ask to see that it integrates with more powerful options. To learn more, give us a call at KORONA. We’ll walk you through our system and show you how it can improve your business. Just click below to learn more about our point of sale and register for a free trial so you can see for yourself.

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About the Author

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Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.

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