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Why consumer behavior data can create a better customer experience

Learn how CRM tools help your business collect vital consumer behavior data and create a better customer experience.

By Hannah Wren, Content marketing associate

Published April 7, 2020
Last updated April 12, 2021

There’s no getting around it: The success of a business depends on how well team members understand consumer behavior.

To some extent, this has always been true for companies. But deciphering how consumers interact with your business is especially important in 2021, when communication happens on so many channels.

Consider a modern shopper who discovers a brand through a social media ad. The promotion takes her to the company’s online store. A pop-up appears five minutes into browsing, offering a discount if the shopper enters her email, which she does. One week later, the brand emails her to remind her about the products she was browsing. She returns to the store and purchases the items. The company sends her texts to update her on the status of her shipment.

That journey involved four different channels—and it only concerned a single customer.

With so many ways to interact, understanding consumer behavior is necessary for offering the curated experience customers want. Brands must keep tabs on all of the ways shoppers are connecting with their company so they know what drives engagement (and what doesn’t).

What is consumer behavior?

Consumer behavior refers to how buyers act across the customer journey, from browsing for or researching a product to making a purchase. It tells us how a customer finds your product and service and why they buy it.

Tracking and understanding consumer behavior helps you ponder questions like:

  • Why are your customers loyal to your brand over similar options on the market?
  • How do customers use your product or service?
  • What factors influence purchasing behavior or cause customers to stop buying from you?

To answer these questions, brands often consider how behavior changes for different consumer segments, whether that’s customers in the same age range or in the same location.

Why customer data is the key to understanding consumer behavior

Your customer support team studies consumer behavior every day. They’re on the front lines and can directly witness how consumers react to certain events, such as a social media marketing campaign, product updates, or a public-health emergency.

But there’s more to understanding consumer behavior than one-to-one support interactions. Because communication with customers is complex, brands often need an outside system for tracking how consumers are connecting with their company.

In other words, they need a way to track customer data.

A CRM gathers this data and analyzes it to help teams understand their user experience. It helps companies see how consumer behavior affects all areas of their business, from acquisition to retention.

Consider these events, where customer data is critical for figuring out how to engage consumers:

  • Retail sales spiking during the holiday season, such as on Cyber Monday

    Research shows that customer requests can increase by over 40 percent during the holidays. For companies that don’t use CRM tools or data to prepare for this surge of customer contacts, average response time can increase and can cause a dip in customer satisfaction.

  • The aftermath of a crisis, such as a public health emergency, service disruption, or PR nightmare

    COVID-19 benchmark data showed a strong link between the rapid spread of COVID-19 and spikes in customer requests. This put pressure on support teams to adapt quickly to meet customer demand and safeguard customers’ trust.

  • Channel preferences changing over time

    Email and phone used to be the bread and butter of customer support, but consumers across generations communicate on several different channels. In fact, 64 percent of customers tried a new support channel in 2020, and 73 percent plan to keep using it. Gen Z and millennials use channels other than email and phone nearly a quarter of the time. CRMs help you track all this data to know where your customers are most active.

Collecting data on consumer behavior helps you understand where your customer is, how they’ll react to events, and where to communicate with them.

How to collect consumer behavior data

When businesses understand consumer behavior, they can make more customer-focused business decisions to enhance customer experiences. This goal is worth the effort—84 percent of businesses that focus on improving customer experience report heightened revenue.

But how do you collect that user behavioral data and analyze it to form insights? A CRM can help.

  1. Don’t ignore customer feedback—use it to get better

    CRM tools can help you gather customer feedback, which provides valuable insight into understanding consumer behavior trends. Satisfaction surveys, for example, allow consumers to become active participants in your brand and give you critical insight. You can use this feedback to review processes and policies on behalf of your consumer base.

    Take Zappos, for example. With the help of Zendesk, Zappos collected customer feedback and used it to the company’s advantage. When they discovered that return fees were dissuading some consumers from buying new shoes, they made returns free. Another example is Chobani, which uses consumer feedback when creating new yogurt flavors.

  2. Use your community forum as a virtual focus group

    Community forums provide businesses with a window to observe how consumers behave. Consumers often use a brand’s community to discuss features they would like to see or frustrations they’ve experienced. Organizations can use this information to adjust their marketing efforts or product strategy.

    When you create your community forum with Zendesk, you can establish a community forum for your customers where they can connect and collaborate with each other and with your business. By allowing your customer base the space to interact authentically with one another, you can receive valuable feedback that occurs naturally. You’ll better understand common issues, discover their likes and dislikes, and use that feedback to guide future business decisions. Additionally, you make your customers feel valued, which enhances brand loyalty.

  3. Look for trends in your analytics

    Using their CRM, companies can better understand how their target audience behaves by looking at changing patterns in ticket volume, first-reply time, and customer satisfaction scores. You can use these historical analytics to your advantage and act proactively to predict when to hire more agents around holidays, product launches, and marketing campaigns, and which channels make sense to leverage during those busy times.

    The answers to these questions can help you improve your overall customer experience. Say ticket volume increases or first-reply time dips with every software update. You can increase support teams during these times. If satisfaction scores are higher on Facebook Messenger, consider offering chatbot support on this platform.

  4. Install a “Voice of Customer” program

    Consumer behavior data isn’t just useful for support teams—it can improve product planning and marketing strategies, too.

    Many consumer-focused businesses use a Voice of Customer program to share support data across the organization to improve the entire customer journey. A marketing team may use data about frequently asked questions or common pain points to adjust their campaigns.

    Similarly, product teams might use support metrics to improve plan product offerings and feature rollouts. For instance, Vimeo used the Zendesk Sunshine CRM platform to create customized customer support apps, making it easier for their team to serve the company’s 90 million creative users and field the 25,000 monthly requests. The support team now shares customer request data with their product and analytics teams, and the company uses this customer feedback to influence key product decisions.

  5. Connect your data to create a full view of the customer

    To better understand and predict consumer behavior, businesses can connect all their customer data. CRM tools allow you to combine data from different teams and divisions, such as support, marketing, or management. When you do this, you open up possibilities like sending special promotions to dissatisfied customers with recently closed tickets or giving agents a view into the promotional offers that a customer recently received.

    And it pays off: 80 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences. To create this kind of tailored experience, businesses can use data to craft a single, actionable view of the customer. This means combining the data you receive from CRM software, such as: demographics, purchase history, product usage, lifecycle context, opened outbound emails, abandoned shopping carts, and returns.

    When customer experience teams can easily access all of the customer context they need when they need it, they can glean actionable insights that personalize the customer journey and build brand loyalty.

How CRM tools help you capture the right data

Big-picture views of behavioral trends combined with data from different departments help companies better understand each individual customer.

When using CRMs to gather critical information about consumers to enhance the customer experience, you need to use the right data. Use data that helps you understand your customer better, so you can create a personalized experience and anticipate their needs. With the help of CRM tools, you can focus on the following:

  • Which channel your customer uses

    CRM tools gather details about every individual customer interaction, including the channels they use to shop or ask for help. Zendesk’s omnichannel analytics show exactly where your customer is coming from, whether that’s email, a social media channel, a voice call, or your website’s live chat. Understanding the route your customer took to find you helps you know how to best communicate with them and where to find more potential consumers.

  • Demographics about your customer

    When you use Zendesk for your sales CRM, customer data from any call, email, or chat becomes a new contact with just a click. Not only does this give you basic demographic info, but it also gives you more insight into your customer so you segment them for a more personalized customer experience. This data allows you to personalize marketing strategies, like social media launches or email campaigns.

  • Customer spending behavior

    Zendesk collects and analyzes sales data. This allows you to prioritize prospects, assess past purchasing behavior, and track campaigns. With this data, you know what type of product or service to sell to your client, what to put on sale, and what to focus on for future launches.

A CRM doesn’t just make data collection more efficient—it also gives your team the insights to make better revenue-driving decisions. After helping consumers, you can share the analytics that matter across your company to make improvements across the customer journey.

Use consumer behavior analysis to enhance customer experiences

Use CRM tools to collect and combine data that helps you better understand consumer behavior. When you have the right data, your business can make consumer-centric decisions to enhance your customer experiences. These consumer behavioral factors all influence purchasing habits and build brand loyalty, which all translates to increased revenue and client retention.

Once you've got the consumer behavior data, all you need to do is take action–and we think it's safe to say your sales team is more than up to the task.

Get started with a free trial of Zendesk Sell.

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