Collecting and storing customer information

Collecting and storing information about customers is essential to tailoring your customer service program and growing your business. However, there are legal requirements regarding what you can do with the information you have collected.

Privacy

Any customer information that you collect must comply with privacy laws, whether you use this information or not. The laws also cover how you can store and use the information.

Learn more about protecting privacy and information.

Collecting information

When collecting information about customers, try to find out what your customers are buying, why they are buying, and how often they are buying. Include any potential customers who have made enquiries about your goods or services.

There are many ways to collect information on your customers, including:

  • order forms
  • enquiries
  • complaints
  • warranty cards
  • customer rewards programs
  • customer satisfaction surveys
  • feedback cards
  • customer competitions
  • your website.

Order forms

Order forms let customers order a specific product or service that your business is unable to supply immediately, and are a good way to collect customer information.

If your business stocks products with specific 'release dates', consider using pre-order forms to collect customer information. By filling out a pre-order form, a customer makes a commitment to buy a product and will often pre-pay for it.

Enquiries

It's good business practice to record the details of any customer enquiries so you can follow them up. Enquiries also give you an opportunity to collect customer information and mention your website, mailing list or social media pages.

Recording complaints

Use customer complaints as a way to collect customer information. Not only can you record the complaint, but also who made it, why, which staff member heard the complaint and what was done to resolve the problem.

Warranty cards

If your business has products or services that come with a warranty, you can use warranty cards to collect and store your customers' information.

Customer rewards program

You can collect customer information by implementing a customer rewards program. For example, a customer VIP club could require customers to give you their details - they then receive 10% off purchases over $100.

Learn more about promotional activities and how they can help your business.

Customer satisfaction surveys

To collect information on customer satisfaction, you could use survey cards where customers rate, for example, aspects of your service out of 5. The back of the card can ask for the customer's personal details.

Feedback

Feedback cards can also be used to collect information. You can ask for feedback on specific aspects of your business or leave it open-ended, like a suggestion box. Again, the back of the card can request personal details. Share any positive or negative feedback you receive with staff.

Customer competitions

Customer competitions are an easy way to collect personal information. For example, have customers place their business cards in a box to go into a monthly draw to win a $20 voucher.

Your website

You can use a business website to collect customer information through a 'contact us' form for general enquiries, or by allowing customers to sign up to a mailing list (if you have regular news or updates).

Storing information

You must store information carefully and in accordance with privacy laws.

Remember that customer information is confidential and must be stored securely. Create a plan for how customer information is to be stored and share it with all staff.

A simple way to store customer information is to use an electronic spreadsheet. If you have more detailed information, a customer relationship manager (CRM) database might be more suitable. A CRM can help you analyse customer information to find purchasing trends and identify your best customers.

Maintaining customer information

Customer information is only useful if it's up to date. It's important to regularly check the accuracy of your customers' information, and update it where necessary.

Using stored customer information

Make sure you ask your customers if they would like to receive information or updates from you, and give them the option to opt-out. If you spam customers without their consent they may react negatively to your business.

Find out more about spam and your legal obligations for doing business online.

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