Do you understand your customers? What about your order cycles? In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, efficient order flow and clear insights into customer needs are crucial to sustainable success. If you fall behind in delivering exceptional customer service, you can be sure someone else will take your place. Consider these three ways data analysis can take your operational efficiency to the next level:

  1. Know Your Customer

Understanding your customer is key. Concrete customer profiles through order data tell you specifically who your customer is, as well as where, when and how they shop, helping you improve marketing and inventory control.

Let’s say you’re an HVAC distributor. Analyzing data, you may find that order volumes peak in summer when air conditioners are on full blast and breaking down. Recognizing this seasonal trend, you can then increase stock to meet demand. Further, you can identify key marketing opportunities for the on and off-season, and promote specific products when you know customers need them most.

  1. Goodbye Guesswork

Making false assumptions can be detrimental to your business. A solution based on misleading information will not only yield unfavorable results, it may also cost more than it’s worth.

Take, for example, order error rates. It’s easy to conclude that customers are receiving the wrong products because of staff carelessness, but data can reveal a different story. When analyzing order cycles, odds are you can quickly identify peak buying periods. If you still rely on manual processing, you may discover that order volume is at the heart of your issue rather than employee negligence. After all, your CSRs are not superheroes. If they are flooded with triple the typical number of orders, they’d likely rush through to meet the overflowing demand, making more mistakes in the process.

Not only can you pinpoint the real problem while measuring long-term data trends, such as insufficient staff or lack of automation technology, you can also predict future bottlenecks and proactively resolve them before they damage your customer relationships.

  1. Right Decisions at the Right Time

Your business decisions have lasting effects on your company. Basing them on accurate data therefore is the only surefire way to ensure your time and money are committed to solutions that actually work.

Referring back to the example where the employees are overwhelmed by increasing order volumes, you have two solutions to choose from: recruit additional staff or apply sales order automation technology. Selecting the option that works best for your business is going to increase ROI significantly. To help you decide, you can measure the percentage of orders you receive from each channel – email, fax or phone. If most of your orders are placed by phone, hiring more CSRs to answer calls is likely the best solution. But if the majority of your customers email or fax orders in, leveraging automation technology will deliver faster, more accurate processing.

Dissecting data can be a daunting task at first, but the positive benefits are long-term. Simply determine the insights that best help boost your value and measure those. Learning from that data, you can then quickly identify other key items to analyze, creating an ongoing cycle of discovery that will keep you a step ahead of the competition.