Win the Heart of the Customers with the Power of Data

In the digital era, whoever owns data, that person is equipped with a weapon that creates advantages in business. They will be able to make offensive moves regardless of how big or small that game is. Moreover, in this era, consumer behavior changes 360 degrees. Businesspeople, thus, need data as a compass to guide them to the heart of consumers. PhD Virot Chiraphadhanakul (Dr. Ta), managing director of Skooldio and former data scientist at Facebook, will tell us about the importance of data collection and usage for SMEs to go right to the heart of the customers and win them over.


Data collection –A starting point to help in remembering customers

Dr Ta shared with us that, in reality, business people or entrepreneurs normally use data, but most people do not notice. For example, if we are the owner of the coffee shop, how do we take care of our customers? We might greet the customer, “Good Morning! Is it usual for you?” We can recommend drinks and dishes to them or one of the regulars has disappeared and when they have returned, we know that we should especially pamper them and give complimentary snacks to them so that they will come again. The question is how do we know what to do? The answer is simply because we have all the data that helps us to remember our customers. When we know them, we can guess what is in their mind. All that said is the result of the data remembered by the human brain, but, in this digital era, computers can be used to memorize information or collect customer information. This allows us to remember, know what they like, and take care of our customers effectively. Dr. Ta suggested SMEs to start collecting their own information as followed:

1. If there is a website for the business, all data can be collected regardless of which page customers go, which button customers press and how long do they spend on the page. This information can be collected or, sometimes, helper like Google Analytic or Facebook will be useful as a customer information tracker. More importantly, we have to be able to ask ourselves of what is the information that we need and collect that information as detailed as possible.

2.If business does not have their own digital platform, but make use of other online platforms
in which each platform has different strengths, it is recommended that the business uses all platforms and should not be selective. The platforms are such as Facebook, LINE Shop, Lazada, etc. These platforms also allow backdoor downloading, but we have to be careful about the product details. The name or code of the same product should be uniform on all platforms because if the name or code is different, the collection of information will be difficult. We could be confused if the products are the same or not. Then we can proceed on consolidating all information in Excel sheets. We can now see information, see signs that we can develop or plan the product management effectively.

3.If a business keeps information on paper,
let us start by putting information like sales into Excel sheets or a POS system to collect information digitally.

Know the insight and understand customers with data

When the computer is used to help in storing information in business to remember customers, the next step would be to read their minds. Dr. Ta recommended easy methods which are to look at the feedback from the customers. For example, if a business has a Facebook page, we should have a look at the analytic to see how customers respond to the content published, see the engagement, how many reaches, how many active users there are and what is the time frame that has the most users. This is so that the business knows the situation, knows the problems, and sees an opportunity that could happen. Facebook is the platform that gives all the information that we do not have to go through the hassles and process information ourselves. We just have to start by looking at the information in our hands. By seeing the information in front of us, it is the beginning of the business to try to read customers’ minds. Then comes the action to do something out of the information and this causes future development from the information.

Collect every data to see the relationship

Dr. Ta said that data analysis is the seeing information in various aspects such as which platform can sell the most products or which menu is the best seller by summarising all the information to see the relationship or to compare and the processed information should be changed from tables to graphs for easy understanding. Apart from business information that owners should collect by themselves, we should also heed the sound of the market. Dr. Ta suggested that the business look for trends by searching Google to have a look at what people are recently searching. For example, online courses. Most people will always search for “free online courses” or “online courses with certificates”. These searches will allow businesses to know what people want deep down in their hearts and what they are looking for. The business will need to have their eyes on the market and analyze what they see. If we want to guess what customers need or what they are thinking, we will need AI to help in prediction. We will then start to understand and be able to read customers’ minds. As for personalization, the collection of individual customer information will have to be accomplished first. For an instant, a mobile number or customer code has to be collected in order to remember the past activities of the customers and know the date that the transaction happened. Only then that personalization can take place.

How digital technology helps business to get to the heart of the customers

When a business remembers and understands customers, the next step is to win customers’ hearts. Let us take an example from the journey of the general customers. Customers access the website and add the item into the basket. Some get in and go out without buying anything. Some bought the items and come back as return customers. When the customer information is remembered and customers’ desire is known, the next move that business should take is to look for customers. Customers who added items into their basket, of course, are interested in the product, but how to find them? In Facebook, there is a function called “Custom Audience”. Its purpose is to hunt for those customers. Simply, whenever we want to buy something, the advertisements will appear in every digital platform we go to about 2-3 weeks long or if customers still do not buy products, we will have to think further of the problems. Is the price too high? We might have to re-target to tell customers that the item that they are interested is now on sale and they should get their hands on the item or customers open a food delivery application and still do not order. They open another food delivery application to compare the price. Instantly, they receive an SMS from the first food delivery application, saying that the first 3 kilometres of delivery is free of charge to attract customers back to the first application. Another example is that customers bought the mobile phone and how to make them return and buy another. Businesspeople could try to recommend related products to the customers such as charger or phone case. This is the thing that businesses should do in the digital era.

Dr. Ta said that we can see that in the digital world, entrepreneurs can collect information and do many things with it. How to remember customer information. How to analyze information and read the customers’ minds. Lastly, how to use online platforms to hunt down customers. Before we go, Dr. Ta left us some words. He said, “I want you to try collecting data with your business. Everything about data might sound difficult, but it is not difficult to start. With data, you can do business in the digital world faster. You will start to use computers and robots, so you can take care of our customers better. You will certainly know your customers better and surely take care of them better”.


Citation: Digital SME Conference Thailand 2020: Unlocking the power of data in business by Ph.D. Virot Chiraphadhanakul (Dr. Ta), managing director of Skooldio and former data scientist at Facebook on 15 September 2020.