My analytical inclinations lead me to ask lots of questions. Lots of questions! What often helps me to get the answers to these questions is data. It's important to pay attention to data and even more important to get the story behind the data. Your bottom line is dependent upon your willingness to do so. Here are a few ways data can assist in creating more profitability for your organization.
What's Trending? - Whatever industry you find yourself in, it's good to know what trends are taking place within your organization. Are certain products selling more than others? Does this happen on a certain day of the week? At a certain time of the day? Do your customers call in more for a particular reason? Which customers? Do they web chat more than they call or email? Do employees take longer to properly service customers for particular issues? What are those issues? Which employees? (I warned you that I ask lots of questions!) The ability to identify trends can assist you in deciding what adjustments to your operation are necessary and which adjustments may result in reducing expenses or increasing sales, therefore increasing (hopefully) profits.
Long Term Patterns - When analyzing data, it's important to look for patterns. Data has a way of creating operational identities through patterns. One must accumulate data over a longer period of time in order for patterns to materialize. Long term pattern awareness helps you to identify blips in real time, as one becomes sensitive to changes in the data because of regular analysis. Blips can be defined as events which usually require short-term or sometimes no action, while pattern shifts indicate something has changed and further investigation is in order. Blips may be driven by either internal or external events. Sales promotions, new product launches or product issues are examples of internal events. External events such as product endorsements, weather or negative press can also create blips. Determine what's driving the blip. Some blips are planned. For instance, sales promotions or new product launches are examples of planned internal blips. You want to be ready for this blip as increased revenue is the event focus. Proper planning will assist in being ready to capitalize on the additional customer traffic whether via phone, visit or online. Blips of this type may in fact develop into a pattern shift if for example the demand for a new product remains high for a long period of time. For some external events, bad weather for example; it's possible to utilize historical data to determine operational impacts. One can insure all internal operations are aligned and ready to meet the challenge.
Capture data for your core processes, especially those for customer interactions over long time periods. When analyzing data for your core processes, compare week over week, month over month, Monday vs Monday, Tuesday vs Tuesday, etc. I have found that doing so helps to find the rhythm for the operation. What's normal for a Wednesday at 2:00pm for your operation? What about the first quarter of the year? Long term pattern awareness helps one to plan accordingly and make the right decisions which in turn may assist in creating additional revenue or increasing profitability through lower expenditures.
Data Utilization Drives Retention - Proper data utilization is a key driver to customer retention. If you're capturing data from your customer facing processes, more than likely you will identify opportunities to improve the customer's experience. If you're inviting your customer to provide feedback regarding their experience with your organization, once again there's probably some adjustments that you can make which will improve your customer retention. Now we all know that retention equals additional revenue. Data from customer facing processes is crucial to improved profitability. How many visits, inbound calls, email contacts or web chats are income generators - I want to buy/utilize your products/services? How many are income preservers - I am encountering problems with your products/services? One must be able to determine this ratio as long-term profitability is at stake. Too many income preservation type encounters can certainly affect the bottom line if not captured , analyzed and acted upon.
Capture and utilize data to answer the myriad of questions that someone like me may ask regarding your operation. Your ability to provide the answers means that you're on top of the situation. Remember - Identify Trends, look for Long Term Patterns and don't forget that Data Utilization Drives Retention.