Harness the Power of Rich Customer Insights Data
How to collect and apply customer insights to improve relationships and grow your business
By 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention data as a critical enterprise asset. This finding from a recent Accenture study is significant because it demonstrates that a vast majority of businesses are realizing the value of data – especially customer insights data.
Data has always been important. Businesses have collected it for decades – but technology and innovation has increased the amount and quality of data we can collect, which has left many business leaders befuddled as to how to properly leverage it. For a long time, businesses have focused more on how to collect, analyze, and apply data than on defining business goals and creating an appropriate data strategy to achieve them.
Well, not anymore.
KPMG Global Head of Consumer and Retail René Vader noted recently that consumer and retail CEOs are transitioning business operations to better meet customer needs. And the role of customer insights data in these shifts can’t be understated.
What exactly is customer insights data and how can it help my business?
Here’s the widely-accepted, basic definition of customer insights: interpretations of data gathered from different sources, such as customer feedback, form submissions, and other digital interactions, that are compiled and analyzed to inform business decisions.
That definition is good, but it only tells part of the story. Customer insights are critical for business success. It’s not just about have the customer insights data, but what you do with it.
Let’s first review the broad types of customer insights data you can collect:
- Demographics (age, gender, geographic location, income, etc.)
- Pain points and needs
- Personal preferences
- Experience details
Gathering this information on your customers is incredibly valuable, but the real value comes into play when you begin putting the data to use.
Turning customer data into customer insights requires a mindset shift that data isn’t just for collecting, and that’s where customer insights software plays an important role. Platforms like Customer Success Cloud help your business properly leverage a multitude of valuable customer data to drive sales and develop longtime customer relationships. You’ll be empowered to organize and orchestrate the implementation of customer success best practices across your enterprise while gaining the requisite visibility that empowers everyone from sales to service with actionable customer data.
Working toward a unified solution
We know that a better customer experience translates to increased ROI. But often, businesses jump right to a technology solution without understanding how it will help or impact the customer experience, and without knowing how it fits into the overall organization or what business goals it can help achieve.Before adopting a solution, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the customer experience we want to create?
- What are the people and process changes that need to happen in order to enable that customer experience?
- What is the technology that can most effectively get us there?
Your customers’ needs should be at the center of every business decision you make. Increasing ROI comes from having long-term relationships with satisfied customers. Sure, a streamlined shipping process or robust customer service team are also critical, but customer insights tell you what about those services can be improved. Maybe customers are receiving broken items, so you need to improve the way products are packaged. And customer service teams can always use insights to enhance and personalize their customer interactions.
Across departments, customer insights improve processes and drive success. When adopting new technology, work backward so every functional team understands what other teams are doing. Only by being on the same page enterprise-wide can you effectively work toward a unified solution and consistently impact the customer experience.
Watch the recent TSIA Webinar:
Yes! Unlocking Customer Insights Can Deliver Real ROI
If you’re unsure how to answer the questions above or are wondering if your answers will be helpful in validating a technology solution, let’s run through what a customer insights framework looks like to guide your business objectives.
Building a customer insights framework
Also called a customer analytics framework or a customer insights strategy, the overall goal of a customer insights framework is to help you understand how to gather and analyze customer data and then turn that data into valuable insights and actionable decision-making.
A customer insights framework allows companies to save money and time through streamlined processes and connected operations while improving the customer experience at the same time.
Step 1: Know your business goals
As we noted at the beginning of this piece, business leaders are beginning to shift their focus from the collection and analyzing of data to using that data to achieve stated business goals.Think about the business goals that can be better served and supported by customer insights. Now, you have clearer direction about the type of insights you need and a way to measure if those insights are having the desired impact.
Step 2: Define your target customer
Of course you have many different customers who purchase your products or services. But every business has ideal customers that epitomize what you do and who you do it for. The first piece of your customer insights framework is to define who your target audience is so you know who you want to gather insights about. If one of your target customers is a financial advisor with a certain amount of assets under management, you’ll want define that persona to help everyone within your organization understand who you are targeting and how to best engage with them.
Your business can and should have more than one target customer; the common thread being that improving your business’s relationship with these customers will result in greater success.
Step 3: Identify your most important customer data points
At this step, you already know the type of insights you need to support your stated business objectives, and you know who your target customers are. Now, it’s time to connect the two.
Define the insights from each target customer persona that you’ll need to support your business goals. For example, if one of your goals is to increase service contract renewals by 20% over the next quarter, a beneficial customer insight would tell you where they are in their contract. With this insight, you can mobilize communications about automatic renewal or provide them with opportunities for upgrades or enhancements. Have customers who have let contracts lapse, or prospects who have viewed service contract information on your website but failed to act? Reach out with targeted messaging to nudge them in the right direction.
Step 4: Create a customer lifecycle map
This step actually goes hand-in-hand with Step 3. In our example about service contract renewals, we identified the need to reach out to prospects who viewed information on your website about your service but failed to act. These prospects are in their customer journey, which is defined by the stages a prospect goes through before becoming a customer.
A customer lifecycle map follows the same trajectory as the customer journey but directs specific sales and marketing activities based on where the customer is. That prospect who engaged with your website might be ready to purchase a contract, but needs another touchpoint before choosing your company. Your customer lifecycle map identifies the right messaging and activity for the customer at this stage to help close that sale.
However, a customer lifecycle map (as indicated by the name) also applies to existing customers and helps you provide exceptional experiences beyond the purchase to grow customer loyalty and create brand evangelists.
Step 5: Assign owners within departments
Everyone in your organization should be part of your customer insights data efforts. Business success applies to all employees, and everyone should understand the importance of great customer relationships.
Identify the customer insights data that will be most helpful and relevant to each department., and involve your teams in the process. In doing so, you may also uncover helpful internal insights, such as barriers to data collection or technology woes.
Step 6: Develop a customer survey
An effective way to collect customer insights is to disseminate a survey. Surveys are a good idea for existing customers who have an established relationship with your brand and would be amenable to taking the time to complete one. Surveys should be concise, brief, and easy to understand and complete. We all know the customer attention span is short, so how you craft the survey is just as important as the insights you’re hoping to gather.
Step 7: Adopt a customer insights solution
Finally, consider a technology solution built for customer success. The FinancialForce Customer Success Cloud software provides insight into the customer journey to foster greater and more meaningful engagement, triggers strategic sales and marketing activities at the right times in the customer journey so you maintain positive momentum, and enables close collaboration among departments enterprise-wide so customer success is truly a team effort.
Don’t let the customer insights process die on the vine
One of the most significant reasons for adopting a customer insights technology is that it provides companies with a viable, streamlined, and long-term solution for analyzing and leveraging customer data.
If you’re going to put the work in to identify the data you need and what to do with it, you certainly don’t want to see those efforts fall by the wayside as time goes on. Customer insights should be leveraged at every opportunity, and your survey or other means of collecting feedback should be repeated often and especially as your business undergoes changes or evolutions.
If you are making business decisions without considering the customer, it’s time to revisit your customer insights framework and your technology solution. The goal with any good customer insights platform is that it allows your business to gather and use insights easily across your enterprise without the guesswork and confusion of siloed data collection.
Keep security and respect top of mind when collecting customer insights
The way customer insights data is collected is just as important as how it is used. There are two primary issues to consider when collecting and leveraging customer data.
Today’s security landscape is rife with attacks and no business entity is free from risk. While customers are willingly supplying their data, they also put a great deal of trust in companies to protect that data, which means keeping it from being disseminated or used by a third party, and implementing the necessary security compliance protocols to prevent attacks and breaches.
Moreover, customers are generally wary of providing their information, and typically require something in return or need assurance that it is being used for a valid purpose. Few things reflect more poorly on your business than collecting customer information and using it without their knowledge or permission. Even emailing a customer who didn’t officially provide their email address is a big no-no.
Customer insights are valuable and necessary, but you must use them responsibly and commit to keeping customer data safe. Organizations in industries like healthcare or banking have compliance regulations they must follow, but many other industries do not. Protecting customer data is important for growing customer relationships and upholding your business’s reputation.
Gathering customer data and turning it into valuable insights requires a strategy and the technology to support it.
As customers demand simpler, more engaging, communicative, and personalized experiences with brands that understand and meet their needs, customer insights data becomes a must-have. And your organization can collect and leverage those insights with a platform solution that turns your entire organization into a customer success team.