The Role of Customer Intelligence in Business Success

“Big data may tell you how many customers you have won or lost but not necessarily why. This is the intelligence that can really make a difference.” – Jane Frost

Let us begin with a cliché – no customers, no business. Simple enough to comprehend, and yet many companies still struggle with coming to grips with the fact that they would need to truly understand their customers in order to keep them happy and loyal. With so many avenues to collect customer data, and so much of this information being easily available, there really is no excuse for companies to fail at getting to know their customers better. However, simply collecting data does not suffice. Companies need to aim at customer intelligence in order to gain success. Customer intelligence, in simple terms, refers to the sea of information that a company can extract from all the customer data available to it. The purpose is to gain an in-depth understanding of customers, their needs, motivation, and reasons to buy, their emotions, and other aspects that would make this understanding holistic. Gaining this information helps a company to gain business success, sustainably.

The role of customer intelligence is to ensure that a company has precise and accurate information about their customers, such that it can provide focused and personalized products and service that would make it unique and differentiated. In an overcrowded market, constantly doing something noticeable is critical to the success of a business. We know that the balance of power has shifted to customers, and this power has grown significantly. This has happened owing to the transparency afforded by the information available online, social media, and definitely reviewer sites that encourage users and customers to provide candid reviews and comments on products, services, customer service, food and accommodation, and a whole gamut of aspects of any company.

Given that a company cannot prevent online reviews, the best thing to do would be to ensure that every customer / user has pleasant experiences each time they interact with a company. To do so, a company requires customer intelligence, which would provide information on the buying patterns and history of each specific customer. Using customer intelligence effectively would help a company to make the necessary changes and improvements in their offerings and customer service, which in turn would attract more customers, repeat business, and lead to brand advocacy. A company must however, understand that since customer intelligence information is derived from highly dynamic customer data, the information must be used immediately, since it would lose its relevance and efficacy if ‘put away for later’. Customer needs and expectations change – it would be wise for a company to change and keep pace with their customers, and not make the mistake of relying solely on past information, and or ‘tried and tested’ methods.

Being able to effectively use customer intelligence would result in improved business – customer intelligence gathering should then become a company’s culture and one of the key priorities. We know that customers are no longer mute spectators, and neither is it possible for companies to expect them to be happy with one-sided communication. This means that companies must strive to have ‘dialogues’ with their customers, and by using the vital information derived through customer intelligence, the company side of the ‘conversation’ would be effective, interesting, and would serve to engage customers long-term. Customers love companies that seem to know everything about them – giving them customized offers, sending them relevant information at the most opportune time, and other such ways that make them feel valued and important. A company can do this for their customers all the time, if only they would use customer intelligence, intelligently! The good news for companies is that they have a powerhouse of information within – their customer service staff. These employees interact with customers daily, and closely, receiving feedback and information from customers all the time. It is prudent for companies to speak with their employees regularly and extract as much information as they can about the customers. Doing so has two benefits – one a company would get deep and invaluable insights about their customers, and secondly, it would make the employees feel valued and important knowing that their feedback is important to the company.

In order to gain customer intelligence from the data extracted, it is important that all the data be stored in an orderly and easily retrievable manner. This is why CRM systems have gained importance, and are being used extensively by a large number of companies. The data stored in these systems help the employees to easily locate and use it, to help customers and the business. By suitably implementing a customer intelligence strategy, a company can create for itself a sustainable competitive advantage that would be hard to beat. This advantage would be due to improved customer experiences through personalized service, and customized offers. As customers receive great service and experiences, they would be more inclined to provide repeat business, stay with the company longer, and encourage others to conduct business with the company. A meticulously implemented customer intelligence strategy and the resultant information, can prove hard to replicate, especially if a company were to use it add value to its customers before anyone could even conceptualize options and offers. Being the first in the marketplace today, is a serious advantage, and can change the fortunes of any company.

Customer intelligence increases the customer lifetime value (CLV). A company that can personalize every message and service through every touch-point and interaction with customers – at every stage of the customer’s journey with the company, will find it easier to gain loyalty and customer brand advocates. For the company, this translates to lowered costs, enhanced efficiency in the use of resources, a unique and consistent view of their customers, and lot more effectiveness in its communication. It would be able to create uniqueness and differentiation in every aspect of every interaction with customers, which in turn would lead to not only meeting but also exceeding the expectations of customers.

A customer intelligence system helps a company to gain deep and unique revelations of their customers, which in turn would allow it give customers, exactly what they would expect and even go beyond those expectations. Customer intelligence also helps a company to provide better multi-channel support, consistently good across all channels. This not only improves the communication a company has with its customers, it also tells customers that they have the liberty to contact the company as per their convenience, and through the channel of their choice. It would hard for customers to resist the ‘charms’ of such an efficient and customer-friendly company! The main aim of customer intelligence is to make the happiness and satisfaction of your customers the core of a company. Each person must understand their role in providing top service to customers, proactively, and know that their efforts towards this end would be recognized and suitably rewarded by the company. When everyone in the organization would be pulling their weight to contribute towards the happiness and meeting of expectations of customers, the company could soon become a force to reckon with.

To sum up – what a customer intelligence strategy gives a company is enhanced customer retention, more opportunities to acquire customers, an increase in revenue, profitability, and market reputation. Is there any company that can say it does not need any of these?

 

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