Most business leaders agree that engaging with customers and developing deeper customer relationships translates to better business decisions. But many teams in many organizations often struggle to demonstrate the tangible ROI of customer relationships. At the root of the problem is the ability to measure KPIs that the C-suite actually cares about, and communicating it in a language they understand.
At the 2017 Customer Intelligence Summit, Eileen Chen, customer insights analyst at Keurig Canada, shared some of the strategies she and her team have adopted to address this challenge. In a recent Q&A, she gave us a preview of her session, and shared her thoughts on the impact and influence of consumer insights in the company.
At Keurig, you moved from from an e-commerce role to consumer insights. What prompted you to make the transition?
Shortly after I started working at Keurig, I realized I wanted to do more analysis in my role. I wanted to help make decisions and be at the beginning of the process as opposed to the execution side. After communicating this to my managers, they allowed me to take on projects that supported that goal.
While I was in an e-commerce role, I initiated a project involving focus group discussions to understand our customers’ pain points on our website. Based on learnings from that project, I collaborated with relevant stakeholders to craft a strategy that yielded positive results.
Eventually, a position opened up under my current manager in consumer insights. Luckily, my research project had just wrapped up and I had just indicated interest in insight analysis. I'm so grateful that I'm in this role today!
What are some of the main differences between your role in e-commerce and in market research?
In my role in e-commerce, I collaborated with everyone from logistics, making sure there's inventory, to customer service, making sure they don't get too many calls. That role gave me a good understanding of how all the departments work. Now that I work in insights, I use that knowledge to make the best recommendation possible.
A role in e-commerce involved making sure that every single web page is optimized. Eliminating bugs is a must. It requires a lot of project management and coordinating with IT to ensure everything is perfectly coordinated. In contrast, in consumer insights, we work directly with people who require the insight, working on a project-by-project basis.
What’s your favorite part about being in an insight role?
One of the most rewarding parts of my role is being able to influence strategy from the get go. If another department requires time-sensitive insight, I can provide that quickly and give them the information they need to make customer-led decisions. A tool like our insight community allows us to engage our customers in the afternoon and get hundreds of responses the next morning. I find it fun when customer feedback debunks our own hypothesis—when the data shows that consumers think the exact opposite of what we had in mind.
"The insights team here at Keurig really do help people on a day-to-day basis, and I love that about my job."
I also work closely with many colleagues in sales roles, providing them with insight and data they can use to close deals. My role impacts the bottom line, and I find that fulfilling.
Most importantly, helping people is what motivates me. The insights team here at Keurig really do help people on a day-to-day basis, and I love that about my job.
It’s great to hear that the insight team at Keurig Canada is able to influence strategy. Can you share some of the things you’re doing to make that happen?
Providing proprietary data and insight is a huge part of it. For example, executives often come to us directly and asks us to engage our insight community to guide where we're going. Our culture at Keurig is not just data-driven, but also insight-driven. And because of that, we’re seen not just as data crunchers, but thinkers. When they come to us, we give them specific recommendations, not just data.
Open communication with other departments is crucial. For example, when we launched our insight community, we did sessions with other departments to showcase what can be done. Since doing those sessions, other teams been coming to us nonstop. If they are wondering what customers think, they know they can engage our insight community.
You have a lot of experience working with retail partners. How can consumer insight help improve retail partnerships?
When we meet with our retail clients, we offer customer insights as part of our package. We tell them from the beginning that our strategies are backed by data. We allow retailers unlimited opportunities to engage our insight community, and that shows how open we are as a partner.
We also know exactly how many coffee fanatics in our insight community shop in certain retailers. That number is shared with our partners, so they know that if they’d like to run activities in our community, there’s a significant number of consumers that are willing to answer their questions.
What kind of insight do you usually share with your retail partners?
They’re interested in a lot of things. For example, they want to know the optimal mix of K-Cup® pods to put in their variety packs.
We also test flavours for retailers. In our sales presentations, we include data on which flavors their customers are most interested in.
Our insights also help our retail partners improve merchandising in store. We engage our insight community to determine if promo materials like flyers and danglers look good, or what type of improvements should be made.
"Having real-time access to our customers allows us to provide insights we can share during pitches and negotiation."
Our team’s goal is to infuse consumer insights at every step of the retail process. Having real-time access to our customers allows us to provide insights we can share during pitches and negotiation. That insight gives retailers confidence that they can sell Keurig products.
You’ve been at Keurig for a couple of years now. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about coffee fanatics so far?
Keurig owners are very passionate about coffee and want their voices to be heard. That helps explain why our response rates are at 30% or higher. It’s not unusual for us to get many paragraphs talking about people’s coffee experience.
In one study, we found that many coffee drinkers like to customize their drinks. Some people like to add Bailey’s to their Keurig drip coffee. Some add syrups or even spices.
I was also surprised to learn that the average coffee-drinking Canadian drinks three coffees per day, and 67 percent of Canadians have had a coffee in the last day. I thought two or three per day was already a lot, but apparently many consumers have six to seven coffees a day.
Which books have significantly shaped your career in marketing and consumer insight?
My favorite read is Grit by behavioral psychologist Angela Duckworth. The book, as well as Duckworth’s TED Talk, is all about passion and perseverance. She interviewed high achievers and found that people who are most successful are not the ones who are naturally talented. They’re the ones that worked the hardest toward one long-term goal in everything that they did. Duckworth’s research shows that the most successful are those who focus on one skill to improve, and they're doing that over decades and decades.
As a young professional, I try to develop and hone many new skills. But I learned from Grit that it’s important to focus on one or two things that you want to do well and work at those no matter what.
In terms of my careers in marketing and consumer insights, I've learned the most from a podcast by NPR called "Hidden Brain." My boss loves it, and we always geek out on consumer insights that come from that!
Your session at the our Summit was about ROI measurement. What are the most common challenges and misconceptions consumer insight pros have about ROI?
The first misconception is that consumer insights is a merely a service provider. From my experience at Keurig, consumer insights has a lot of pull in the organization—perhaps more than people give it credit for. Researchers can change the direction of the company because we're bringing the voice of the consumer. We should not underestimate that power.
"Consumer insights has a lot of pull in the organization—perhaps more than people give it credit for."
That said, we need to be advocates for customer-centricity. Sometimes that means convincing your colleagues in other departments that their gut feeling is wrong. You have to stand your ground, show them the data and encourage them to listen to consumers.
As for ROI, sales would be the most salient and most relevant measurement. At the Summit, I’ll share how consumer insights influenced a massive packaging change in one of our product lines and what we’re doing to track the impact of that change. Because our recommendation was adopted across all products, we have the ability to quantify afterwards to see if the change improves sales.