It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in; your customer data holds the keys to unlocking powerful information. It is the direct guide to your customers and your operation. This is especially true in the fuel industry. Most of the time you find yourself guessing about what you think your customers need or what changes you need to make to your operation.
“1 in 20 fuel dealers actually look at their data,” says Phil Baratz, CEO of Angus Energy.
Data isn’t some unreachable piece of information that’s coded deep within the depths of your back-office system or website – it’s right in front of you, sitting in your back-office system or business intelligence platform.
How many services calls has a customer had? Data point.
Does the customer have a tank monitor? Data point.
What’s your cost per delivery? Data calculation.
What does this mean? That everything you know about your customers and your operations can be used to help you make more informed decisions, so you’re not guessing where you need to make adjustments to increase revenue and decrease costs.
So, how can fuel marketers like you make sure that your data is ready to give you the answers you’re looking for.
1. Clean your data.
When fuel marketers go through the onboarding phase of BRITE, our business intelligence software, the first step we take is assessing the cleanliness of the data to determine what data needs to be cleaned. Time and time again we see mismatched data, unformatted data, and even misplaced data. Although cleaning data can seem like a be a big undertaking, and is often times what discourages companies from making this a priority, it is a very important step needed to capitalize on the information your data provides. When data is organized with a purpose, that’s when data transforms into information.
Looking at your data will give you valuable insights to where inconsistencies may lie. When a customer calls with “no heat”, is that logged in the same format every time or, are is it entered as “no heat, No-heat, Out of heat” (notice the difference in formatting and wording)? Once you find those inconsistencies, you are able to start cleaning the data into manageable pieces.
2. Create a standardized process.
Whether you’ve decided to clean all of your data in one big swoop or split up the cleaning project into more manageable pieces, start creating processes and procedures that will provide for clean data going forward, while you are correcting the past. As an example, instead of allowing the CSR or dispatcher to type in the reason for a customer call, create drop-down fields with pre-defined call types (No heat, billing question, service call, etc.). If you’re unsure of the capabilities of your back-office system, reach out to your provider to find out what options you have.
Any shift in a process will require transition time as your team gets used to the new way of doing things. If creating multiple procedures at once seems too cumbersome, I suggest starting with figuring out what information is being put in the “notes” section and move that to a drop-down or checkbox. A lot of times fuel marketers have lots of good information in the notes, but if it’s not standardized then it can’t help you.
3. Monitor the new process and data.
According to a study by Blaznet 57.5% of poor data quality stemmed from data entry by employees. So, it’s important that as you work through the transition phase of the new process you should document it and check the data daily (or weekly) to ensure the inputs are being entered correctly. Your back-office system or business intelligence software may have exception reporting available to help you quickly identify these errors. For those of you that are using a business intelligence software, you can easily spot misentered data by drilling down into different reports (delivery exception, margin reports, excess service calls, etc.). You should always monitor your data, its accuracy, and adherence to the standards you have set, especially while you are transitioning from an old habit to a new habit.
What happens next?
Implementing these 3 steps will allow your company to be prepared for when you are ready to start using analytics platforms, like business intelligence, making the onboarding process much easier. Even if you’re not thinking about business intelligence (yet!), these steps will help you use your data to make informed business decisions by making your information and reports much more accurate.
If you’re still not sold on the importance of cleaning your data, here’s one more set of statistics that may change your mind. Based upon the respondents in the Blaznet study, of those who implemented data quality processes they found that:
- 5% increased revenue
- 5% reduced costs
- 5% spent less time reconciling data
- 46% had more confidence in their data systems
- 43% had fewer errors
If you’re interested in learning more about how to turn your data into dollars, click here to see the 2019 seminar schedule. Angus Energy has partnered with fuel associations around the country to provide you with the knowledge to build a better business for tomorrow.