In virtually every industry today, new companies are introducing innovative technologies, upending business models and challenging established brands for market share. In this competitive landscape, the companies that win are those that really get their customers.
At a couple of recent Vision Critical events in Sydney and Melbourne, I shared some thoughts on how companies can leverage customer insight to navigate their industry. My tips are based on my analysis of global enterprises that effectively use customer intelligence to drive business KPIs.
Here are five takeaways from my presentation:
1. Link Big Data with customer attitudes and preferences
Although the use of Big Data is still growing, many companies are discovering that it’s not enough. Big Data provides a poor or insufficient explanation of why people do what they do, or what can be done to address business problems.
To get a more complete picture, savvy companies are integrating Big Data into their customer intelligence platform. This allows Big Data observations to be researched in conjunction with projects run with an insight community, for instance.
Other companies use their insight community to give transactional data more context. For example, if Big Data suggests that a group of customers is reducing their spending, you could engage a relevant segment of your insight community for additional qualitative and quantitative research. Doing this type of follow-up helps uncover the why behind the phenomenon, giving you more insight into strategies for action.
2. Pursue collaborative innovation projects
More companies are launching crowdsourcing projects to tap into the insight of people outside their organization. By crowdsourcing projects, stakeholders get to engage with customers directly, helping them appreciate the customer's’ point of view. Another benefit of crowdsourcing: customers who participate in co-creating products tend to be more engaged with the brand and become advocates.
Smart companies leverage crowdsourcing activities in several ways. Some companies use insight communities to run online discussions between stakeholders in the organization and customers. Others use mobile ethnographic techniques, asking customers to submit images and videos from their daily lives.
3. Get a more comprehensive customer view
Innovative companies are employing what I like to call the “know more about your customers” approach. These companies realize that a more comprehensive understanding of a customer’s life is a distinct competitive advantage.
For example, some Vision Critical customers conduct segmentation studies that give them a perspective on the differences and similarities between specific niches. Running these types of activities could reveal why people have joined your insight community, for example, which could then give you ideas on how boost response rates and improve the quality of insight you get. Segmentation projects can also reveal why certain people use your products and services more often, and how you can better serve those customers.
Other companies do 360-degree reviews, finding out what people do when they are not directly interacting with a brand. Understanding your customers’ habits, preferences and attitudes outside of the context of their relationship with your brand could uncover unmet needs and provide valuable insight.
4. Engage employees, peers and influencers
The tools developed and used by insight teams are capable of providing value across many areas of the organization, more than just customers. For example, more companies now use insight communities for employee engagement, harnessing the feedback of their own people to develop better products, enhance marketing campaigns and improve customer experience.
Likewise, other companies use insight communities to engage with intermediaries (such as independent financial advisors), fellow professionals (through trade bodies, for example) and opinion leaders.
5. Enhance your marketing campaigns
A deep understanding of the customer is key to marketing campaigns that resonate. Customer-led marketing leaders are leaning on researchers to provide real-time insight about their target market.
The use of customer insight for marketing effectiveness can be seen in many different industries:
- Leading consumer goods companies use consumer insight to convince retailers to stock their products. They use hard data to demonstrate consumer preferences and a demand for their products.
- In media, companies offer custom research to prospective advertisers as part of value-added packages. These media brands have monetized their research department, uncovering a revenue stream that wasn’t there previously.
- Advertisers use customer stories to craft more compelling campaigns. Some companies feature members from their insight community in their advertising, giving their campaigns a more authentic voice.
- Tech-savvy companies use customer feedback as part of real-time marketing optimization. In conjunction with real-time data (for example from programmatic advertising), feedback from insight communities can help the marketing team adjust campaigns while they are still ongoing rather than being an after-the-event scorecard.
Turn insight into your competitive advantage
The pace of change today is the slowest it will ever be. Regardless of your industry, a new competitor is just around the corner. In this age of impressive change, the companies that close the gap between their brand and the voice of the customer are well-positioned to fend off challenger brands.
For more tips on customer insight, check out the Must-Have Toolkit for Market Researchers.