Important Customer Data

One of the first assignments I gave to those who attended the CRM course in the MBA program at Istanbul Bilgi University is as follows:

For the sector you choose please specify the 5 most important data and why it is needed:

Apart from

      • Name and surname
      • Age (or Date of Birth)
      • Gender
      • Job
      • Education
      • Address / place of residence
      • GSM number / e-mail address
      • Income

Apart from those, you will briefly explain what the 5 most important data that can be obtained are and why they are important.

Important points:
When I say the 5 most important data that are OBTAINABLE, if the income or salary information of the gas purchaser will not be disclosed when asked and if you write “income is important”, the homework will be considered incomplete.

Unfortunately, some MBA participants focus only on promotion (hence communication) in studies for various sectors:

  • E-mail address: It is used to transmit all kinds of information and campaign news to the customer.
  • Phone number: It is used to transmit all kinds of information and campaign news to the customer.
  • TR ID: Used to unify customers in a customer-focused database.
  • The credit cards they use: They are used to organize campaigns with banks.
  • Marital status / Number of households: It is used to know who we can make customers except himself.
  • Media preferences: Used to position the customer’s preferred media space for marketing efforts

I doubt some of these are even ‘available’ for many industries. How many people say their “marital status” or “media preferences” when buying air tickets.

However, it is necessary to focus on the information required to get to know the customer better and thus increase the lifetime value of the customer, not on promotion.

Let’s give examples from a few different sectors:

The good and bad examples in the article are compiled from the homework of MBA participants. I thank those who prepared good examples.


  • Flight frequency
  • Frequent destinations
  • Departure place (does it always leave the same place?)
  • Total expenditure per year
  • Preferred class (Economic, Business, etc.)
  • Ticket time (last minute, discounted offers, early booking, etc.)
  • Is it through agency or personally?
  • Is he alone or flying with someone with the same last name?

There are many participants who write

  • Travel purpose
  • Job

However, we cannot know them either. It is also unlikely that we will ask every customer and expect a response. We may need to interprete over other information if it is very important to us.

“From what information do I deduce that there is a business trip?” We can ask ourselves and add that information to this list.


  • Expectations from Exercise: Weight loss / gain, fit in a bikini and wedding dress, fit body and healthy life, socialization, etc.
  • Time to Spend for Sports: How many days & hours per week and hours of arrival
  • The Sports Branch he / she wants to focus on: Fitness, swimming, group work, etc.
  • Health Status: Is there any obstacle to doing sports? Should he exercise for a specific reason?
  • Sports Background: How many years, what sports
  • Break Activities: How to use the training breaks; magazine, TV, music, chat…
  • Private trainer / Group work preference: Do you work with a trainer, prefer group work, or work alone?

In airline,  “Why are you traveling? Work or vacation? ” you cannot ask or you cannot get the answers. However, those who come to the gym often tell why they came.

GSM Operator:

  • Invoice amount: Cost-benefit analysis is needed to provide more reasonable offers and / or to estimate the level of income.
  • Air time and number of SMS: It is necessary to get an insight of why the customer’s preferences are phone calls or SMS and to offer better offers accordingly. It helps us learn how much of his/her time she/he spends on the phone in one way or another.
  • With / without Internet: Opportunity to cross-sell to customers based on Internet usage; online campaign offers; It is necessary to learn the most frequently used internet platforms.
  • Hours of use: The hours when the customer is busy, what hours of the day, with whom he talks
  • Numbers he speaks frequently: We can create special packages among our customers with certain numbers.
  • Phone brand: We need this information as the packages offered by the operator may vary depending on the nature of the devices. Device replacement speed also gives an idea of ​​the customer’s level of income or spending.
  • Voyage to abroad: It will be advantageous to know how often the customer visits abroad in order to avoid surprise invoices. It will allow us to provide information in advance.
  • Churn exists or not: Whether it comes from other operators, for how many years it has received service from the same institution.
  • Customer request / complaint status: It is important for behavior management towards the customer how many “problems” were opened to the customer, how many requests or complaints he made from which channels until today. What are the status of his complaints (open, solved, closed, etc.)
  • Places where he frequently speaks: School / courthouse / hospital / shopping mall / airport etc. This information is needed to make special offers using the locations where the customer is at that time.
  • Packages used: family pack, school pack, fan pack, tariffs, etc …
  • Value-added services: vehicle tracking, lost-stolen insurance, etc…
  • Sensitivity to campaigns: Personal data can be used more, it can increase income through agreements with business partners.
  • In corporate (B2B) agreements, how many people will enter the system at the same time, possible income can be estimated according to their demographic data.

I know there are more than 5 examples for each industry. Any 5 of them are considered TRUE – including other important information I couldn’t think of.

If you don’t have this information, it won’t work well, even if you have full contact information. If you do not know the customer, you can only send spam messages.

You suggest me shampoo [1] , hair curler, breast lift bra, pink face mask [2], best places to go with my deceased mother in Mothers’ Day, gifts I can buy for my deceased father for Fathers’ Day.

Your industry or homework topic may not be an airline or a gym or a GSM operator. However, by looking at the examples above, you can find out what the important information is in whatever industry you are in. You should be able to parse the “important information” that is valid even in hosting or electricity distribution companies that are thought to have a single product.

There is another important issue…

The third (or fourth) assignment of the semester is mostly on breakdowns used for segmentation. If you noticed, those who did the first task correctly actually did the third task as well.

End of the conventional “Permission Marketing”

When talking about permission marketing, Seth Godin said “Marketing experts should take permission from customers to proceed over the sales processes. They should definitely ask customers’ permission before sending them press releases or catalogue via e-mail.” Aside from foreseeing that the internet would dominate the world, he predicted “To sell something to a consumer, it will be necessary to have his permission”, and suggested that a marketer should ask “Shall we send you a message to promote maternity dress?” as an example.

Before the phase of internet called 2.0 was begun, these statements were true in 1999, when the book Permission Marketing was published. To gain information, you had to ask customers, ask them to fill forms and surveys. The concept “Don’t send messages to your customer, who has shared so much information about themselves, before getting his permission” was really effective and necessary for the time’s marketing mentality.

Considering the fact that despite more than 10 years passed especially GSM operators, banks and deal-of-the-day web sites have not reached that level yet, and they offer us products and services we will never use via SMS and e-mail all the time; you have to acknowledge that Seth Godin was right.

If we leave the outdated companies aside, who offer shampoo to a bald man, hair-removing stuff to Uncle Jack, ‘original’ pink face mask to a macho man, paragliding to my grandma, and take the enterprises that follow the day and even have the vision for the future in hand; we need to redefine the permission concept.

It is hard to call a potential customer in business life. You can’t call him asking “Do you think we have a chance to do business together?” If you insist on calling him after hearing ‘No’ as an answer 3 or 4 times in a row, it means you are executing harassment marketing not permission marketing. They don’t take your calls any more; they don’t answer your messages. Sales people love meaningful “reason to call” to get in contact with customers that stop them from being annoyed and draw their attention. After a solid reason to get in touch with the customer is given, turning the meeting into a sales deal is up to sales people’s personal talents.

Now, there is no need to ask customers their contact info. They already share it with everyone on social media.

If they are taking a vacation, where they are going, whether it’s a business or touristic vacation, whether they are at the airport or waiting lounge at the bus terminal, whether they have arrived at his destination, how the vacation is going, how the weather is, how they feel… If they are looking for a house, what neighborhoods they prefer, how much they are willing to pay, how many bedrooms they want, their new roommate… How their grades are, the date and subject of their exam, how it went, what grade they are expecting and what they got, their graduation date, where and how they are going to celebrate it… What sports they are into, when they started keeping a diet and when they quit, how much weight they lost, what kind of food they like, which ones of them they know how to cook and the level of their capability… Where they went on military duty, what kind of situations they came across during their duty… If they are sick, have an accident, how they are affected by it, their injuries, doctor’s intervention, how long the operation lasted, and the time of recovery… If they feel angry, happy, tired, excited, restless, negative, cheerful… If they are getting engaged, are engaged, getting married, married, pregnant, the gender of the unborn baby, the baby’s name, if the baby’s born or not, the baby’s nutrition and sleeping problems, the baby’s first steps, first sentences, birthdays…

They give all the information. Even if we have never met them, we feel like we have known them for a long time. Take a look at all the data listed above. No matter what kind of industry you work for, you can find a ‘reason to get in contact with customers’ to propose them a meaningful offer.

Here is the good part: The customers do not raise an objection when they receive an offer that they can benefit from. They don’t ask the question “How did you get my e-mail address?” as long as it’s a meaningful and steady message. This is very important. At this point, there is no need to ask permission to get the info, they share it with everyone .

Is it enough to know everything about the customers? Of course not. As marketers, we have been executing similar projects for years anyway. We give quite a bit of information to GSM operators, banks and promotion web sites, which I find outdated in terms of marketing communication. We inform them of where we live, where and when we shop, what we are looking for, who/what we are following, what we buy, what our weekly/monthly transactions are, what kind of promotions we go after, which ones we are not interested in at all, and thousands of similar details. They don’t need to look for this data on social medium. It is already in their data bank.

You need to be prepared about what service/product in what situations you should offer. For this, you need to know for how long he is using which products of yours. That is, you need to link customers to your own product and services. Product usage path that is first deepened on segment level and then to customer level, should be ready beforehand in order to offer the next product that he will like most rather than to offer a product the customer is already using, and in order.

You don’t need to ask permission before making an offer. However, if you make a nonsense offer, it’s a matter of time you would be blocked and never be able to make an offer again. That’s how permission marketing is changing. You don’t need to get permission. Customers already shared about it to everyone. But if you do wrong for once, they block you. Even if they share with everyone, they make sure you never see or hear them.

You should already have a CRM infra-sturcture so that you can have a chance to benefit from the data in social media and develop a profitable relationship.

You also should be able to fit the offer with the person’s mood, his whereabouts and the action he is or will be on, unlike GSM operators, banks and deal-of-the-day web sites, who make their offer randomly. If he has stated that he is angry, unhappy or negative, and you are not his cure; you should not make any offer at that time.

To sum, “There is no Social CRM without CRM.”

This article first published on Customer Think at August 19, 2011