How to make big data work for SMEs

Big data for SMEs is all about joining up various sources of data and using it to improve productivity and profitability.

With accessibility via the cloud, big data enables smaller business to take advantage of the tools that were previously only available to larger corporates.

Big data is basically a repository of information drawn from different silos and joined up to make it work more effectively for the business.

Here are five key steps on how SMEs can maximise their existing data to make it big.

1. Defining the objectives

The first question is what does the organisation want to achieve from their data?  Customer satisfaction is usually a primary aim for SMEs, since a happy customer means repeat business. Customer satisfaction goes hand in hand with an overall aim of using data to improve business productivity and therefore profitability.

>See also: Top 8 trends for big data in 2016

A business is doing well if it can deal with a customer’s request quickly and efficiently, compared to asking the customers to repeat their question or query each time they make contact.

2. Identify all sources of data

Most SMEs will have data stored in a range of isolated areas. The key is to work with what they have and then join it up.

Customer contact information is the best place to start. Most organisations will have a CRM (customer relationship management) system but it can be any database that holds customer details.

In addition, a business will have additional stores of information that encompass the many different ways they communicate with their customers.

Start with the CRM system or a basic database of contacts, and then move onto other mediums. The telephony system tracks all calls made and received – there may be a separate repository of call recordings. Also look at your accountancy system, email records and social media accounts for further data on communications.

The phone is still the medium of choice for many people, so call analytics need to be captured and weaved into an organisation’s customer service strategy.

3. Join up the data and consolidate

The next step is to join up and consolidate all the sources of information within a single tool.

The SME may select its CRM system to display the combined data. It’s worth noting that few CRM systems are able to access data from the various data repositories, so their service provider will need to recommend an alternative to join up the data.

You need a solution that has inbuilt APIs that can hook into databases and deliver that information to leading CRM systems, many of which are customised to deliver specific workflows for unique vertical sectors.

If a CRM system is not available, the SME will need an alternative repository in the cloud that can tap into various databases and systems to present the information in a web-based dashboard for interrogation.

4. Analyse reports and dashboards to understand the data

The combined data on the dashboard should display key performance indicators based on the communications data gathered, such as full details on customers, their last orders, any previous email communications, when they last called, and who dealt with the call.

Adding a seamless link to call recordings enables users to hear what was discussed in any conversation. In the past, these recordings would have been held in a separate system and would only be integrated when there was an issue. Now the information can be at hand before an escalation or compliant.

It can be used to help employees achieve an understanding of the customer to the highest possible level, which in turn will enable them to deliver better customer satisfaction.

>See also: How big is big data – and what can I do with it?

5. Maximise and use the data to benefit the organisation

SMEs can now maximise the data based on their specific business workflow, they will know what customers are expecting and they can access all the available information at the right time.

This helps SMEs to predict customer behaviour and improve their service before they encounter a complaint. Being predictive is how you can excel in customer service and improve processes.

For example, when an organisation has an unreturned missed call, it’s far more powerful for staff to know who they are returning the call to and the fact that the caller had tried to contact the business a number of times.

Once you start adding the metadata and bringing all the other elements together such as who else in the organisation has spoken to this person, and perhaps listen to the last discussion with that customer, staff can then be far more productive and therefore more profitable.


Sourced from Carl Boraman, commercial director, Tollring

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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