Nowadays businesses strongly believe that customer experience and service quality are the key determinants of success. Long gone are the days when the number of sales was considered as the means to measure accomplishments. Research done by Harvard Business Review and Focus Vision states, that interpreting and analyzing customer insights is extremely critical for your business. Many successful multinationals or global organizations ensue big and small data to understand their customers. Seemingly, understanding your customers is a great way to improve service quality. Let us first start by differentiating what big and small data is:

The difference between Big Data and small data

The term big data basically refers to customer insights collected via transactions, web clicks, radio frequency identification readers or financial statements. Whereas, small data refers to data collected via primary sources. Which includes both qualitative and quantitative sources. Such as focus groups, online communities and groups, observations and publications. 

Characteristics of Big Data

Big data is usually defined using 3 V’s. Which are volume, velocity and variety. The volume basically represents the amount of data received in quantities. Often represented in the form of terabytes and perabytes. Usually collected by banking and insurance companies. Velocity refers to the speed in which data appears or is received. This could be interpreted in terms of hours, minutes or seconds. Variety ensues data format. Which could be structured (GPS location) or unstructured (images or SMS). However, the three V’s are now four as per another model (Gartner). The fourth V is veracity which represents or reflects data accuracy and value in terms of data usage.

Characteristics of small data

The term small data basically refers to connecting people or consumers with meaningful insights. Or as told by Martin Lindstrom, small data ensues tiny but important clues that can actually turn into a trend. But this is most commonly uncovered by observing people and consumer behaviour. This data may be small but in reality, is very impactful. 

The customer insight equation

Both big and small data ensues a powerful equation and that is:

big data +small data = real human/consumer insights

The equation resonates to a critical analysis of customer insights. Collecting data isn’t the only difficult part. Its interpreting and analyzing those results. Marketers and leaders alike need to understand how a customer feels and thinks about the brand. Feelings could be interpreted as the emotional bond with a brand. An emotional bond is a critical factor for a successful business. It helps companies and businesses understand what and how customers feel, act or respond towards their brand. However, the challenge still remains, that is, how to understand consumers via big or small data. As per the Harvard business review, Big data provides a better yet detailed account of customer response. Whereas, small data basically answers the question of ‘why’ a customer is taking a certain action. 

However, things aren’t that simple. Harvard Business Review quotes that companies need to ensue empathy. That is to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and understand how they feel and react. This experience will provide useful insights.  Both small and big data can provide a wholesome or holistic understanding of a customer. Only if you know how to disseminate information collected. 

Lastly, make sure to use an effective management system to collect data. An effective system will also help provide statistics, reporting and analysis. But then again this is hugely dependent on how you enter data, what your metrics are and important processes to ensue. Inconsistent data collection will result into impediments and lack of insights.