For every type of business, understanding as much as you can about your customers is as essential today as it’s always been. Consumer needs change over time, and with the profusion of choice available in virtually every market, it’s the businesses who grasp and pre-empt what their customers want that reap the rewards.
We know that consumers have come to expect personalised experiences across any and every on and offline communication channel they choose to use, whenever they choose to use them. Yet, the sheer number of channels on offer means it’s trickier than ever to anticipate how consumers are likely to use them and what will turn a prospective customer into one who comes back again and again. It’s only by digging into the data behind customer behaviour that we can provide the deciding factor that creates repeat custom.
Today, there are more data tools and techniques to help us learn about our target markets than ever before, but true customer insight comes, and will continue to come, from the ability to put it to tangible use. Here’s how customer insight analytics can enable businesses to stay agile in a commercial world that never stands still.
We live in a data age; according to big data guru Bernard Marr, we now produce 2.5 quintillion (that’s one million trillions) bytes of data every day. There are vast amounts of data out there, and you can find it almost everywhere. And, as the world has woken up to just how valuable data can be, more and more sources of data have become available.
As data science advances, alongside technologies like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), data can be used in new ways to reveal more about customers and what makes them tick. From adding real-world context through open data or consumer surveys, to analysing social media interactions or creating customer personas, data analysis can unearth patterns and trends that can be used to improve the way in which businesses communicate with their target markets.
These days, the trick for businesses is to have all of the data at their disposal collated together in one place, so that marketing campaigns can be informed by a single customer insight perspective. Using separate data sources only serves to give you part of the picture.
Our work for industrial gas supplier BOC incorporated data from a range of sources to help them deliver an improved customer service. We cross-referenced unstructured survey data with customer profile information and location data to gain an in-depth view of BOC’s customers on an individual basis, giving them continuously-up-to-the-minute market reports that feed into their key business objectives.
Businesses no longer have to place the stakes of launching new products or services on guesswork or gut instinct. By shining a light on what consumers actually want, customer insight analytics can give your business the chance to deliver it, informing the direction for new business opportunities, and identifying the best potential for growth, untapped markets and new services. Analysing consumer data can also help a business reposition its existing products to better suit its current customers.
Working with Barclays to reinvigorate their savings portfolio, we looked in detail at their customers’ behavioural data. Specifically, how they were using the accounts they already had, in combination with segmented demographic data, to reveal areas where refinement could offer customers products more in line with their preferences and lifestyles.
Where the data insight indicated enough of an opportunity, we were also able to produce four new savings products and six limited issue bonds, boosting Barclays considerably in the savings market.
Of course, if customer insight analytics is used to guide commercial progression, it also helps businesses to minimise the risk of investing in ventures destined not to work. According to Harvard Business School, as many as 80% of the 30,000 new consumer products launched to market each year fail; more time spent using customer insight to assess the viability of new products and services could help to bring this statistic down. It stands to reason that customer insight analytics could reveal many projects with a less-than-healthy chance of success.
Many businesses still make assumptions about their consumers and/or their most valuable target markets, rather than capitalising on data to reveal what’s actually going on. Alongside more traditional demographic data segmentation techniques, we can use information about how consumers interact with brands to arrange them according to likely habits and tendencies. In many cases, is a far more effective way in which to group consumers, and enables a business to devise campaigns, services or products accordingly to suit them.
Modern customers want to be treated like individuals, so it’s up to businesses to develop ways of improving the consumer experience, including how they are marketed to. Needless to say though, there’s a distinct difference between using customer insight analytics to enrich the customer journey, and overstepping the mark to leave customers feeling like their personal data rights have been ignored in a post-GDPR era.
The key is to put customers first, and to offer them data-driven added value that puts their personal information to good use. Many consumers are happy for their data to be processed if it leads to benefits for them, and/or personalisation that enhances their experience.
The personalised recommendation engine we developed for IKEA is a good example. Crunching historical data from millions of transactions, we were able to generate algorithms that automatically suggest items likely to appeal to customers based on what they’ve previously purchased. It’s a direct benefit for consumers, and it has helped the company boost sales in key areas.
What can be achieved with customer insight analytics is continuing to evolve, and today’s businesses really cannot afford to ignore what this area of data analysis can do. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to learn how we can help you gain an invaluable understanding of your own consumers.