Businesses across all industries are gathering more data than ever before and nearly 80 per cent of that data is classified as ‘unstructured’. Whilst ‘Big Data’ is key to many conversations, ‘unstructured’ data provides context and enables human understanding which is crucial to businesses.

With ‘unstructured’ data being often under our noses – and on such a personal scale – the importance of unveiling the goodness within this data and understanding how to manage it is evident.

Actively collecting ‘unstructured’ information gives important insight into customers’ opinions of a business’ brand or service. For a business, this real-time data can directly impact on larger business decisions, marketing initiatives and particularly, product innovations.

So how can small businesses use this information to understand their customers better and in turn, continue to improve their company and experience it delivers?

Read Your Reviews

Online reviews from customer feedback and complaints systems, as well as social media mentions, are crucial in determining what’s really going on with a brand. While this information comes in various forms, it is not to be ignored. It acts like a brand barometer and helps determine the overall attitude of the brand and quality of service for the long-term.

For example, if you notice an increase in comments regarding response time, watch that trend, deal with any individual cases and work out if a broader, more permanent solution is needed. This will allow you to work out priorities and focus activities on the most concrete, popular concerns.

Feed Off Your Feedback

At Simply Business, we use a feedback tool called Feefo, which takes our sales data and contacts customers asking them to provide feedback on their experience. This information is collated into a monthly customer ‘pulse’ dashboard, which is used to inform staff and drive change throughout the organisation.

By grouping, analysing and scoring data like this, you are able to detect trends and areas where the business needs to improve. Individual tweets and reviews are particularly interesting to analyse and producing word clouds can help you to more easily see themes in the feedback.

Sharing Builds Trust

Collecting reviews allows you to further enhance trust in your business’ brand. Publishing this feedback score e.g. 95% positive or 4.75 out of 5 on product pages means this in turn shows up in your search results, improving click-through rates from Google to these particular pages. Ensuring that customer feedback is live on your company website is another tactic to consider, as this allows customers to see how you’re doing as a business. This again helps build trust with the brand.

Be Aware Of The Conversation

Another way to gather and use ‘unstructured’ data is by watching relevant online forums for mentions of your brand and products and responding to queries or complaints where necessary. Monitor social networks for likes, posts and shares to see which types of web content are popular, and use the same focus in the future. Finally, always watch out for people having difficulty with your products or services, so you can help them in real time.