Published On: Thu, Jan 25th, 2018

How to Build a Customer Database

When starting a new business, you will quickly learn that your biggest and most important assets are your customers. It doesn’t matter how much expensive equipment you have, how large your inventory is, or even the real estate you own on which your company is located. You would quickly fold without a solid customer base, and this is why it’s so important to build and maintain that database. Are you new to building a customer database?

Here are some tips to help you learn.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

Determine What Kind of Software You Want to Use

Before you can build a customer database, you will need to find some kind of software or platform which you feel comfortable with. There are online platforms that reside in the Cloud; there is software that does everything for you but key in the entries and then there are good, old-fashioned spreadsheets like Excel. What are you most comfortable using? Whether you choose an ERP platform or an Excel spreadsheet, it’s vital that you pick one and stick with it. Take time to understand how to work with your database to avoid errors.

Where to Find Resources for Building a Customer Database

Many startups fail because they don’t reach out for help when they are floundering. Most often, it’s a matter of not having the right information at the right time. If you don’t know anything about creating or maintaining a database, it helps to begin reading as much as you can on the subject. Also, take time to read what other startups are doing on sites like 4ra where you can find informative articles on everything from getting referrals to maintaining quality relationships with your clients. Information is key in any industry, so when it comes to building a customer database, do your research first and then get to work!

Learn to Sort Fields

Entering the data on your database is the easiest part of all. Each field represents something about a particular client which could include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Industry
  • Purchase History
  • Payment Method

And, so forth. When seeking to expand operations or to begin a new marketing push, it helps to be able to sort by fields so that you can grab the customers you want to target. Also, customer databases are an integral part of your accounting department, so learn to sort by fields. Sometimes it’s easier to use software or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) platforms because they have sort options written into them. Unless you are adept in working with spreadsheets, user-friendly software is probably going to be your easiest solution.

What you need to remember is that your database must contain all the information you may need to pull up in the future, of which contact information is among the most important. Good business practices mandate that you build relationships with your customers, but without a database, how will you remember who they are and how to find them? In other words, it’s more important to understand ‘why’ you need a database than how to build one, because there is plenty of information out there to help you learn how to build a customer database.

When building a customer database, remember to enter data you will need in the future as a key field. This is how you will sort your customers to be called up as needed. Learn ‘why’ and the ‘how-to’ will fall in place.

Author: Carol Trehearn

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