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Three Ways to Balance Data Collection With Customer Service

September 7, 2010  

Debra Ellis recently received an unusual question during a visit to her doctor: "Has capturing information replaced service?" he asked. The doctor had recently taken a vacation with his family, and had endured an excruciatingly complex check-in process at the campground; when his family added another day to their stay, the process only got worse. Despite loving the park, the experience had caused them to reconsider any future visits.

"The real question he wanted me to answer was 'when does the value of capturing information exceed the value of the customer experience?'" writes Ellis at the Multichannel Magic blog. And while some information (payment and personal identification) was necessary for the doctor's campground check-in, "After capturing these items, the rest is for future data mining efforts."

So how do you find a balance between collecting the data you need and providing a premium customer experience? Ellis outlines warning signs like these:

  • Be prepared for high abandonment rates if you require extensive personal information for email subscriptions and loyalty programs. "The objective is to connect with your customers and prospects," she says. "Requiring them to provide detailed information about themselves and their interests increases resistance. Ask nicely, but don't require it."
  • Be concerned if it takes more time to capture information than to complete the transaction. "Capture the minimum amount of information needed to process the order," she advises. Then ask if customers are willing to share additional information; make it worth their while with a discount on their next purchase.
  • Be wary of a management team that's more focused on analytics than customer service. "Use your numbers to improve your service," she says, "not to replace it."

The Po!nt: Make sure there's more data to collect by making sure your customers come back.

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