How Big Data Helps Companies Learn about their Customers

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There are innumerable factors that will determine how successful a company will be – from the way they treat their employees to the new business models that they decide to employ to beat their competition. One of the most important facts has also always been the "feeling" the companies have about their customers.
In other words, gaining correct and actionable customer insight will always be one of the crucial steps towards a successful company. These insights will include what customers think about a company and its products, how they relate to its brand, what their purchasing habits are and so much more.

Traditional Ways of Learning about Customers
Companies have been finding new ways to learn more about their customers for centuries, as they know very well this will increase their chances of success. One of the easiest and the oldest ways of learning about customers is interviewing them after they have made a purchase. Companies ask their existing customers about their feelings about the company and the products they bought.

If they want to reach out to a larger potential customer base, companies can use paid surveys and other types of inquiries that involve larger sets of people who will answer questions that will give the company valuable insights. These surveys usually involve hiring outside help in form of a survey company or a website that will do the survey and then provide the company with the necessary insights.

Some companies also use various tests to determine which actions might bring them more customers and which might hurt them. One of the more popular tests are the so called A/B tests where certain options are tested against each other, while keeping everything else the same. This kind of market research has its downsides, but then again, this is true for most types of market research.

The Introduction of Big Data
From the earliest days of big data, back when it was not yet called big data, its potential in gathering insights on customers was very apparent. Being able to process huge amounts of data on the ways customers and potential customers are behaving is something only the most luddite of companies would refrain from, right?
In reality, however, it has been a slow process. For most customer success professionals and marketers, the big data field is still something on the horizon, but not something they are already using. And there are a few reasons for this. For one, it takes some know-how to be able to use various software solutions used to analyze large sets of data. Also, it can be expensive to gather and store data. Simply choosing the best solution can be difficult.

Still, we are seeing a growing use of big data in gathering information on customers and analyzing the patterns in their behavior. Which brings us to why big data and customer insights mix so well.

The Potential of Big Data
Big data is able to provide companies with an unprecedented insight into the behavior of their customers, as well as their potential customers. This is even truer these days when everyone is online and when their clicks are often registered by entities willing to make this data available.

A company can, for example, learn that one of their 10 products is attracting people over 45 but not those in the younger age groups. They could also learn that one of their products is selling better in the East Coast than the West Coast of the United States. They could learn that their yearly sales are not attracting enough people to justify the lowering of the prices.

More importantly than that, with savvy big data practices, companies can find out actual reasons as to why all of those things are happening. By analyzing large sets of data, they can search for clues that will tell them that, for example, people under 45 simply do not think that one product is cool enough. Or, they will learn that this East Coast-preferred product is considered "too-European" for the West Coast.
These precise insights are what big data is all about.

The Challenges
Of course, not everything is that great when big data and customer insights are in question. Like we said, there are reasons why more companies are not going big data-heavy with their customer research. It can take a while to discover the best practices and to find the right ways to use big data. Swinging and missing can be a big expense, even now that SaaS big data companies have started popping up.
One thing that must not be ignored, however, is that big data and customer insights will become inseparable in the near future.

It is better to become part of that future sooner than later.


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Aashish Sharma is an Internet Research Analyst and an aspiring social media marketer. He possesses hands-on experience in optimizing and promoting websites on leading search engines and web media. His passion is to keep updated with what masters of the internet such as  Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook etc. are up to innovate & deliver. At Tjabh Blog, he aims to be a part of most active online community and most widely-read blogs on the web, covering the insights of Tjabh Blog that will help in preparing the leaders of tomorrow.