Using data to understand your customers

Ethical issues

Frost says that it’s critical to make sure that right from the beginning you collect data in a systematic and controlled manner. Otherwise you might not just damage its usefulness, but also fall foul of the law. 

“You have to understand that when you collect data, it’s not your data, it’s the customer’s data,” she says. 

For instance, disguising a lead generation as a survey (known as “sugging” would be inethical – you should be upfront about the reason for asking. This also means protecting data within your organisation – market research data should not be accessible by a sales team to use for leads. 

“It’s critical for businesses to get data collection right, right from the the beginning,” Frost adds. 

Dirty data

Data can sometimes be misleading, so it’s important to check the information you’re using isn’t “dirty”. 

“Just because you’ve got a load of people on your database doesn’t mean they are real,” Frost says. It’s easy for the same people to get counted twice and for others to be totally ignored – meaning your data will not be representative of the public at large. 

She adds: “Data is good when used right. But it doesn’t predict things, it only tells you what’s happening at the moment, it’s limited by the questions you ask of it and equally it’s going to cost a lot.” 

When it comes to analysing the data, Frost says that it’s better to analyse a thousand responses with a human than a million with a machine. 

“People are not numbers,” she adds. 

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