Customer insights: The next frontier

By: Gordana Radmilovic and Michael Manfredo
Imagine you're an astronaut traveling to Mars, and you attempt to navigate your voyage with your eyes and ears closed and no data to tell you whether you're on or off course. You have no data to understand how far you've gone or how close you are to reaching your destination. It would be impossible.

Many organizations are on a similar journey, trying to navigate towards their customer experience (CX) “North Star”—that end-state CX vision that provides an enjoyable, effortless experience that will build incredible brand loyalty and customer advocacy—but without vital customer data. Just like that voyage to Mars, it’s impossible.

Five critical questions

If your organization is trying to "boldly go where no organization has gone before," consider these five critical questions about specific customer data you will need to navigate your CX voyage.

1. Who are your organization’s best customers? It is imperative to know your key customers—typically based on some key metrics around purchase, usage, or feedback—and their primary characteristics and behaviors. This segmentation helps your organization understand how each segment prefers to interact with the business. Segmentation also helps you identify pain points in customer journeys, understand of the value of each segment so you can allocate investments appropriately, and pinpoint customer groups that are at highest risk for churn or offer greatest growth potential.

2. What drives customer experience, loyalty, and advocacy? Performing a driver analysis for your customers will help you understand what your organization can do to impact each customer segment's experience, either positively or negatively. This analysis identifies actions that can retain customers or that may ultimately cause near-term churn for at-risk customers. By doing so, it can shape activities for navigating toward your CX North Star.

3. How can the organization best cater to individual customer needs? Simply put, this is all about anticipating the customer's future needs and responding with the "next best action" to engage. This involves personalization, shifting from a "one-size-fits-all" product focus to an individual-customer-need focus through the use of predictive analytics. The better you anticipate a customer’s needs, the more likely you are to deliver an effortless experience.

4. Which tactics most effectively engage customers? Organizations are constantly changing ways to engage customers, through different messaging to different technology or channels. But if you don’t understand how each initiative supports the end-state CX vision, it is difficult to focus on continuously improving your customer experience.

5. What is the business impact of improving customer experience? Most organizations cannot effectively tie financial impact back to specific CX initiatives. All of these different initiatives and activities require investment, so it is imperative to prioritize investments properly by demonstrating the true value of customer experience for your organization.

A starting point for answering those questions

Although you may have already considered some of these five critical questions, finding the answers is likely an arduous task—for any number of reasons. You may not know which data is critical to the customer’s experience. You may not have access to usable and cleansed data. You may not be able to tell what the data actually means within your organization. Or you may not even know where to begin analyzing your data.

Driving actionable insights about your customer experience requires you to put your data to work. We have found that a three-step Customer Insights Assessment can kick-start an organization’s efforts to answer critical customer experience questions and "boldly go where no organization has gone before."

This approach first involves empathizing with customers through journey-mapping sessions that reveal which data is critical to customer experience. With that foundation, it is then possible to dig deeper to assess the data you have today and then create a roadmap for closing data gaps and turning customer experience insights into actions.

Make the first “giant leap”

Delivering an effortless customer experience today requires enormous amounts of data gathered across the multiple business channels that your customers access daily. A Customer Insights Assessment can be a first “giant leap” to unlocking additional value from that data. The customer insight that resides in your data won’t just help you plan your customer experience strategy; it will allow you to manage metrics that drive and positively influence customer experience every day.

So don’t wait until you hear “Houston, we have a problem!” to begin integrating this data into your customer experience strategy discussions.

For more information, please contact Gordana Radmilovic and Michael Manfredo, or visit our Customer Experience homepage.

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