How Companies Collect Customer Information




  • by Amy Christaldi April 12, 2016
    April 12, 2016

    Gathering customer information is important for every business. It helps you identify your customers, process payment transactions and provide great customer service, both at the time of the sale and in the future.


    So how do you capture the data you need to best serve your customers and keep accurate records?


    Paper Forms

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    Many businesses still rely on the tried and true paper form to capture client information. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways for businesses to gather relevant information.


    However, paper forms put most of the burden on the client or customer. If you’ve ever walked into the doctor’s office and been presented with a big stack of forms to fill out, you understand what an inconvenience this can be.


    Paper forms are also harder to integrate into your contact management system, since the information will likely need to be typed in by an employee. This can lead to data entry errors since customer handwriting isn’t always easy to read. Paper forms can also be lost.


    Data Entry

    If you don’t need a lot of information from your customers, it’s easy to simply type the information at the time of the transaction. Many retailers simply ask customers for relevant information and type it into the computer immediately.


    Such information might include:



    • Name
    • Address
    • Phone Number
    • Email Address

    shutterstock_179576501-retail


    Typing the data on the spot saves time, both for the customer and the business. Of course, there’s always the chance that the sales clerk will make a mistake when typing the information.


    While this process is easier for customers to handle than filling out a stack of forms, some customers may feel inconvenienced if they need to spell their name more than once or repeat other information back.


    Still, on-site data entry has its benefits and it saves lots of paper.


    E-commerce & Customer Kiosks

    E-commerce shopping carts and on-site kiosks or terminals can also be a great way to gather customer data. Like paper forms, much of the burden to enter accurate information falls on the customer.


    Still, using technology to gather information has its benefits:



    • Input information directly into a contact management system
    • Provides access to customer information with a simple login
    • Easier to track past purchases
    • Integrate identity verification technology to improve accuracy

    Card Scanning Technology

    The latest innovation used in collecting customer information is card scanning technology. This solution is becoming more attractive to many business owners for its potential to save money and improve customer relationships. In fact, 55% of respondents to a survey on collecting customer information said they use card scanning technology for information capture.


    acuant screenshot


    Card scanners allow customers to provide their information with a simple swipe of cards they already have in their wallet.


    These might include:



    • Driver’s license
    • State-issued ID card
    • Credit card

    Customers like the convenience of providing information more easily. Businesses benefit by capturing accurate information without inconveniencing their customers. Identity verification technology can also be integrated into card readers to improve accuracy.


    As you can see, there are many ways of collecting customer information and some are more accurate than others. Paper forms, onsite data entry, e-commerce carts, customer kiosks, and card scanning technology all have their place. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of each choice to decide which method is best for your business. The key is striking a balance between obtaining accurate information and making it easy for customers to provide it.

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