If you have a retail business, you know how many times someone comes into the store, looks around and leaves. Imagine if everytime that occured, you would have captured information about that person, such as a mailing or email address? By now, you would have a nice database of people who might be interested in your product. Imagine, if you had done the same thing with people who actually purchased from you as well? Your database would have grown substantially.
That's the value in collecting customer information.
And most of the time, all you have to do is ask.
I can't tell you how many times I've visited a website or entered a store and I haven't been asked for any sort of contact information. I often think that if I received a coupon from them in my inbox, or a note advertising an upcoming sale, that I would be inclined to return to the store. But, I get nothing. All they had to do was ask me.
But I know why they didn't ask me.... For them, managing a database isn't easy. Most of you know that larger companies have at least one person (and many times a department) dedicated to keeping the database as clean as possible. ('Clean' means free from errors.) While most businesses (especially small ones) don't have that type of time to dedicate to managing a database, but it's important to make time!
That database adds value to your company. If you were to ever sell your business, you aren't just selling the business, but also your customers and contact lists as well. Databases also help you with business continuity, since employees can usually put notes about a contact they had with the customer. Wouldn't it be great if your customer care rep happened to call a customer on their birthday, and the database had their birthdate entered into it? Imagine the surprise when your rep says, "Happy Birthday." You're going that extra mile, and your database helps you do that.