The second part of Bill Gates' famous quote from Business at the Speed of Thought* deals with the subject of reporting and managing the information you've gathered. The unfortunate reality is that many people have databases full of useful information, but they simply don't use the information effectively. Many people think of a database as an electronic Rolodex®, when it is really so much more than that. A database is a living, breathing, proactive platform that can generate predictable results and keep bringing in new business for you.
The only way to turn your data into useful information is through reporting. The more you know about your customers, the more you will be able to market to their relevant needs. In Part II of this series (Gathering Information), you were provided with a list of questions to ask your client.
Let's look at the question of "What are your hobbies?" and see how we could use that information to create a better relationship with our clients. Wouldn't it be terrific if you had notes on all of your clients, and knew if they were fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or San Antonio Spurs? If you knew that information and could run a report listing all the people who fall into those categories, you could send those groups of people a congratulatory email whenever their team wins big, and connect with them on their level.
If you knew the timeline up front when a client stated they were expecting an increase or decrease in pay, or any expected change in their financial situation, you could run reports on that information and proactively be ready to service them. Wouldn't this constitute terrific service? Don't fall prey to the never-ending cycle of gathering information over and over again and doing nothing with it. Remember, stagnant data does nothing to help you build your business. You need to be able to compile intelligent reports and use them effectively.
I like to use drop-down menus in my database management software because, for reporting purposes, it is extremely important that the data you input is consistent. If you list some of your clients as "Bucks Fans," some of them as "Buccaneers Fans," and the rest as "Tampa Bay Fans," then your statistics would not be correct if you ran a report on how many "Buccaneers Fans" you had in your database. But, if you use a drop-down menu that allows you to select one option that is consistent (e.g., "Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fan") then you will have consistent results as you run your reports. This is called normalizing your database, and it solves a lot of these problems.
We'll wrap up this discussion next time with The Art of Database Management Part IV:
Meeting Customer Relevancy. Feel free to visit me on the web @ www.buyallentownhomes.com
* © 1999 Warner Books. Author: Bill Gates with Collins Hemingway, Contributor.