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Vital statistics

Written by David Hathiramani on Wednesday, 06 March 2013. Posted in Enterprise, Technology

Businesses hold more data on customers than ever. But choosing what to measure can be a minefield, says David Hathiramani

Vital statistics

A Suit That Fits started as the world’s first online tailoring company. We have always listened to customers and, taking into account their demands very soon after we launched we developed a network of studios and became multi-channel. We started to take appointments locally to our customers and now have more than 30 studios nationwide. 

The reason I have started with this is because the business’s roots are online and this channel continues to be hugely important to our business model. By revolutionising the bespoke tailoring industry, we were unique; we were also able to store lots of tailoring data and customer preferences on the system. Everything we did was stored on a database and, since we started in 2006, we’ve been finding different ways to use this mass of information to improve our customer experience, product offering and business. 

Small businesses don’t have it easy on this front – it is very easy to get left behind. In fact, the only reason why we stored so much data was because of my IT background. I knew we needed to do everything through our system to be effective; this also meant that all of the interactions the business made were stored in our database.

Here are a couple of simple examples of useful data collection (though we have around 200 reports on our internal system):

1 We open new studios across the country based on customer demand. We use Google Analytics to track all of our visitors on our website. With this, we track where they are in the world, and if there is an available appointment for them. If it looks like there is an opportunity to increase the number of appointments we offer, we’ll consider a new studio location.

2 We track how happy our customers are using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system. The NPS is based around one simple question: on a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend? The score is the percentage of people who answer nine or ten (promoters) minus the percentage who score between one and six (detractors). Anything positive shows the net effect of customers who will recommend the business. Anything over 50 is a sign of excellence. We ask the question of every customer once they’ve had their garment tailored. We then use these scores to improve as a business – it’s a really clear system so is a great tool to use when motivating our team.

There has been a lot of talk about how businesses will be built on data in the future. This can be a bit daunting for small businesses, so here are a few simple tips:

1 Collect, collect, collect – and store everything for later. You will find that when you have decided what data you would like to use, it’s too late to collect it. Even if you don’t need to use the data right now, store as much broad information as possible – then when you have a lightbulb moment, like, “Hey, let’s send birthday messages to our customers!” you will be able to action it on your past customers. 

2 Keep it simple and clear. The Net Promoter Score (see before) is a great example of this. It is a single number that represents how well you are doing with your customers. This gives the entire team one number that they can all relate to and focus on.

3 Don’t bamboozle others (or yourself). Sometimes you will find yourself clutching to get some kind of understanding from a spreadsheet, or some pattern from a table that may or may not exist. In my experience, if you are getting to this point, trust your intuition. Your brain has far more data than even your most sophisticated database – so trust it.

In summary, every time a customer visits your website or passes through your door, they will give you an insight (however small) into who they are, what they like about your product and service, and how your business – and team – is performing. On an individual level, this is insightful and helpful; on a company-wide level, this is extremely powerful. 

About the Author

David Hathiramani

David Hathiramani

He may be co-founder of trendy suit retailer A Suit That Fits, but Hathiramani is also something of a closet geek. And the Imperial College Computing graduate is here to impart some of his wisdom about setting up an internet business.

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