In this day and age, the majority of business takes place online, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced this to be the case for the past year. It’s not just business though – everything we do now requires an internet connection, and this rise in online activity means data analytics is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after skills to possess. By using data from the operation of a website, you can gain a host of valuable insights, such as: which parts of the site are consumers engaging with most, is the site difficult to understand or navigate, and how long do people usually spend looking at your content? All of these points can be used to improve the efficacy of a company’s web presence (and in turn, increase the profitability of the organization).
Data analytics is a very broad field. Data analysts essentially combine the areas of business, statistics and information technology (IT) with the goal of helping businesses of all shapes and sizes be more successful. Depending on the size of your company, you may choose to examine your website’s analytics yourself, hire a team of analysts, or employ a dedicated ‘webmaster’ to optimize your online profiles.
While data analytics can be used to make improvements to the business as a whole, specific emphasis should be placed on the customer service improvements that can be made. In this article, we’re taking a brief look at the vital role of customer service for online businesses, and how analytics can help improve these services.
What is Data Analytics and How is it Used?
The term ‘data analytics’ is a particularly broad one. In the context of business use, it means examining data to better understand your customers, which leads to personalized content, more effective ad campaigns and a better customer experience. Data analytics techniques allow you to take the raw data from your web pages and uncover trends or patterns. The insights gained from analyzing the statistics can be used to:
- Perform more effective digital marketing.
- Provide better customer service.
- Streamline the company’s operations.
- Inform decision making.
One tool which utilizes data analytics is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a method that almost every website uses to match potential customers with your products/services directly from the search engine. So, how does it work? Put simply, consumers will search for whatever they’re looking for via a search engine. Depending on the specific words they use, they will be matched with websites that are packed with the same keywords. Data analytics can identify which of the words on your site are most effective at matching potential customers to your brand. You can even add new content (jam-packed full of buzzwords, of course) to increase your chances of being high on the list of search results, and ease the experience of the customer.
Data analytics is incredibly useful for businesses. With internet use ever on the rise, data analysts are going to become a hot commodity as increasing numbers of businesses seek to improve their online visibility and drive more customers into their online stores. Thus, there has never been a better time to gain a valuable qualification in such a sought-after skill. By working towards an online master’s in Data Analytics at Emerson College, you’ll gain expertise in digital marketing that will do wonders for your employability or current job security. You can even boost your earning potential and complete the course in as little as one year! It’s certainly something to consider if you’re interested in data analytics, or if you just want to gain the expertise to optimize your own online business. Either way, check out the experts at Emerson College for a range of excellent digital marketing certifications.
Ways that Implementing Data Analytics Can Improve Customer Service
Using advanced data analytics can help you understand all sorts of things about a business, such as the trends of your consumer base and the performance of your social media advertisements. But how exactly can this be used to enhance customer service? Nowadays, consumers care as much about the experience they have shopping as they do about the product or service. All the customer trends that data analytics helps you to uncover can be used to create a stronger connection to your consumers, increasing their satisfaction. That leads on nicely to the first of four main ways customer service can be enhanced:
- Build customer satisfaction and loyalty – Data analytics can examine reviews, delivery times and fulfilment rates to assess how pleasant the customer’s shopping experience will have been. If the consensus is that customers might not be happy with your services, you can then implement a strategy to increase satisfaction.
- Provide more thorough analysis – A data analytics service will allow you to delve deep into your customer service data, and identify links in the customer service chain which might not be functioning properly.
- Personalization – by getting to know your customers, you can build stronger relationships and vastly improve their experience.
- More convenient support – once implemented, data-driven customer service systems can work alongside existing channels without the need for human oversight. Particularly for businesses without a dedicated customer service team, a data-driven solution could be very beneficial.
What is Google Analytics and How Can it Help Me?
The market leader in digital marketing, Google Analytics (GA) is a free set of tools for monitoring website data in order to help optimize the way your company’s online presence is performing. It’s not exactly a new service – created in 2005, it was so popular at its inception that the company had to take the platform down temporarily due to an abundance of traffic. It’s no surprise that ever since its second release (the following year, in 2006) GA has maintained over 55% of the market share of digital analytics tools. By making numerous major updates over the years, Google has managed to overcome strong competition by staying ahead of the pack and adapting to advancements in website capabilities.
Google’s initial reasoning behind the free release of Google Analytics was their desire to make data analysis software accessible to everyone, not just the big companies willing to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company has actually stuck to their plans – keeping the platform free to use all these years, while still charging the largest companies in excess of $100,000 for what amounts to very similar software.
There are numerous ways that an analytics program like Google’s can help improve customer service and the general success of a business. One of the main functions is the tracking of visitors to a website – the software can give you a range of useful insights, like where in the world your customers are browsing from, whether or not they’ve visited the site before, and how long they spend looking at any particular page. Google Analytics can help you collect and use this information to ensure that your target audience is responding well to your website. Some of the other features of GA are as follows:
- It measures the number of visitors you have – and not just the totals. Google’s software provides you with a whole host of additional information, like how many people are viewing each page at any one time, and what kind of devices they’re using the internet on. All this information can be used to make changes to the design and content of the website. This could be to increase the flow of traffic or encourage the people who are already visiting the site to actually buy a product or service.
- It links to Google Search Console – what this means is you also get all the statistics relevant to searches for your website. This data is imperative for making sure your SEO settings are working as planned, or if keyword changes need to be made.
- It can link to your social media pages – this is one of the best features, especially as social media has become such an effective tool for raising awareness about a product or brand. With Google Analytics you can work out which of your posts are the most popular, and which are leading the most people to your website.
- You can compare your competitors’ performance – this is limited to companies who also use Google Analytics. Fortunately, this makes up over 55% of all the webpages on the internet. Yes, you read that correctly. The Benchmarks tab is used to compare the traffic and search data for industry competitors – this info can be used to see what others are doing that you’re not, and how your business might improve.
- You can monitor your progress with regards to your predetermined goals – GA encourages businesses to set realistic, quantifiable goals, the progress of which can be measured by keeping an eye on certain key statistics. For example, you might have set the target to increase the number of likes you get per social media post by 20%. This is something that can easily be monitored – Google can even offer real time, intelligent business suggestions to help you reach your goals faster.
All of these insights can be used to track which parts of your online presence are working as they should, and how you could make edits to improve traffic flow and hence, revenue generated.
Why Customer Service is Still So Important for Online Shopping
We’ve talked a lot about how data analytics tools can be used to improve the customer service of online businesses, but it’s important to remember why customer service is so vital. Well, studies have shown that 85% of losses of a recurring customer have been caused by inadequate service. And it’s six times more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one!
Customer service is a completely different challenge when running an online business (or at least managing the online services of a company) compared with a physical store. While there is much less talking to encourage sales and providing customer assistance, it’s equally important for businesses to provide their customers with a good experience. This can be done by providing a high-quality product/service, being accessible and trustworthy, and personalizing the customer’s experience.
Some people only see customer service as reactive – this means the service remains unused until it’s needed. However, in this day and age, consumers place equal importance on their experience as they do the product itself. So, while it’s very important for online businesses to have responsive and helpful customer service, it’s also a good idea to make sure any important information is very easy to find, and the website’s interface is intuitive. If consumers are having issues with the site, it will likely show up in the data analytics. One way this could be apparent is if you have a high bounce rate – this is the proportion of visitors who leave the webpage immediately after arriving. While this is usually just the result of an accidental click leading them onto your site, it could be an indicator that your homepage is too difficult to navigate or even unpleasant to look at.
To conclude, customer service is still absolutely vital in the age of online business, making sure that no returning customers are lost. Data analytics can help improve your company’s customer service in numerous ways, as discussed earlier, by giving you insights into the performance of your website and how its operation could be streamlined. One of the best options for small and large businesses alike is Google Analytics – a free to use service with an intuitive interface and low implementation difficulty. This platform can link all your online profiles, showing exactly how all of your customers arrived at making a purchase, and giving insights into how the customer experience could be improved. If you’re thinking of using data analytics to enhance your company’s customer service, be sure to do your due diligence before choosing a service to use. You may even want to hire someone with more expertise or a proper certification, as dealing with large, complex data sets isn’t for everyone!