Businesses have always measured progress using some type of analytics. Whether it’s a retail shop counting its receipts to determine daily sales or a law firm pulling information on yearly billing to arrive at a figure, data science has been around for decades. Today’s tools, though, make it easier for an organization of any size to measure progress and even get predictions on how things will progress in the future.

If you’re running a business, the right tools are essential to remaining competitive in your field. When you measure and monitor your progress, you’ll have the information necessary to make the right decisions moving forward. Here are a few ways you can use measurables to remain competitive in your own industry.

Personalizing the Customer Experience

One of the best things about being a small business is that you can easily provide individualized attention to each customer. As you grow, however, you’ll find this is much more difficult, and it comes at an expense to your reputation. Using tools like a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, you can gather information on each customer and put it to use in your marketing and customer service. So many businesses now use CRMs to collect data, customers are starting to expect each experience to be personalized.

Monitoring Progress

More than half of all companies are investing in data analytics for a reason. When you have full insight into how your business is performing, you’re better able to make decisions. Instead of investing in television ads for your tax preparation services each tax season, for instance, you’ll realize that your social media ads actually got better results and toss more resources that way. As a result, you’ll get more of a return on your investment.

Gathering New Customers

Your first interaction with a new customer is vital to success. Intake forms are a great way to gather the information necessary to determine how you can best help each person. Intake forms provide a convenience to new clients, since they can provide some of the information you’d normally require during an initial consultation. However, they also can provide valuable insight into where your marketing efforts are paying off since you can include questions like, “How did you hear about us?”

Collecting information on customers is only the first part of a two-phase process. The second phase involves putting that information to use in improving your business and reaching out to new customers in the most cost-effective way possible.