One of our primary goals for producing this content is to help take the stigma out of the idea of data collection.  We’ve had prospective clients tell us over the years that they know they could be doing a better job embracing the practice of gathering user information, but for one reason or another they just can’t get over the hump.

Some of the rationale we hear includes:

1)    I don’t want to waste my customers’/guests’ time
2)    It’s too invasive – people don’t want to share any personal information
3)    It takes too much time
4)    It takes too much money
5)    It takes too much effort
6)    I wouldn’t know what to do with the collected data once we get a hold of it
7)    We’re already killing it – we don’t want any more business/supporters/revenue

Okay, so we’ve never heard anyone actually say the last one, but if any of the rest of the list sounds like something you might say or think, I’ve got some bad news for you.  You’re probably already gathering user data and you just didn’t realize it.

Meaningful user/customer/donor/guest data comes from all over the place and I’m willing to bet you’re already actively learning from it.  Does your organization or business have a Social Media presence?  Have you ever exchanged business cards with someone?  Do your customers have a way to seek support from you?  Do you have a phone number?  Or do you ever talk to your customers?

Maybe you don’t diligently record each time one of these data points is created – no sane person would – but if your company participates in any of these activities, some part of you already knows there is value to be derived from these interactions.   We can learn so much from the information our customers willingly volunteer to us.

And that’s the catch – our customers want to be involved.  Sometimes it just takes the right type of motivation.  We’ll be discussing strategies for fostering customer involvement in future posts.

So if you’re already informally gathering data, the next step is getting a bit more organized and purposeful with your engagement.  The secret is implementing a more complete program that streamlines the data collection process.  If done well, it will be fairly obvious how to respond to what the data is telling you.