What does it mean to be customer-centric?
"Every business is now a technology business and what matters most is a deep understanding of the customer, which is enabled by technology."
-The McKinsey Report
The majority of companies like to make the claim that they put their customers first. And in all fairness, most truly believe that they are indeed doing just that. However, putting a customer first involves making decisions about what, when, and how to service and sell to them. But how do you do that if you don’t really know your customers?
Well, to address this dilemma, many are taking a data driven approach to obtain valuable customer info. And we can thank the advancements in big data technology for this. Most of what we need is within arms reach ( hint: your laptop).
Forrester reports that there is a 30% increase in growth for those companies who are discerning the times and proactively embracing the wealth of knowledge they have available to them. Regardless of your own personal opinions about the subject, big data has become an integral part of value creation for those in the building material industry.
With customer insights, you eliminate the need to rely solely on a gut feeling when it comes to decision making. You can analyze, reevaluate, and make the necessary changes based upon real feedback. And then you can more effectively attract, engage, and delight your customers.
You may be wondering, what exactly are customer insights?
HubSpot defines customer insight as interpretations of quantitative and qualitative data gathered from customer feedback and other informational sources which are then compiled and analyzed to inform business decisions. The goal is to identify behavioral trends to improve the effectiveness of marketing, sales, and services initiatives.
When you have established essential personas for your ideal customers that correlate with a more in depth understanding of their psychology, behavior, and preferences, then you can better resonate with and successfully serve them. This results in a more pleasing experience and increased revenue.
How is this information gathered?
Since insights are more about the conclusions that you can use to make decisions, you can reach those conclusions from a variety of sources, including:
1. Customer Feedback
Perhaps the easiest way to get customer insights is by simply asking them what they think. Surveys and “How Are We Doing?” style questionnaires can lead to powerful take-aways that can be applied to future campaigns.
The challenge, though, is that this mode alone may not be enough to give you the full picture. Many customers may be afraid or unwilling to share their true opinions and/or give minimum viable feedback to complete the survey/questionnaire.
2. Customer Sentiment
Methods that measure customer sentiment, such as NPS and star ratings, are equally as important (if not more so) than surveys. By asking customers to rate how they feel and removing the friction to do so — one-click popup, anyone? — you can begin to measure customer satisfaction with any digital experience. These are especially effective for in-app or on-page testing of a single feature as well as experiences after a sales call or customer service interaction.
3. Third-Party Data
If you don’t have access to a large amount of customer feedback to make decisions from, you can draw insights from market research performed by larger organizations with a wider audience. Being aware of customer trends in your industry can help you understand the pains and problems your customers face, which can help you craft marketing campaigns, develop new offerings, and serve your customers with better empathy and understanding.
4. Situational Analysis of Anecdotal Experiences
Customers may not know that something could be better until it comes along and metaphorically hits them in the face. This could be detrimental if an innovative competitor makes them aware, or it could mean delight if it’s an improvement you make.
However, if a customer doesn’t realize the flaws in a process, service, or product, how can they communicate it to you? This is where customer feedback alone falls short.
Companies that conduct in-person interviews, ongoing gap analysis, and/or training seminars may unearth insights a survey never could, especially if they rely on open-ended questions.
5. Passively Collected Behavioral Data
By paying attention to not just what customers tell you but also how they interact with your website, product, or content, you can determine a lot about your customers. Analytics platforms such as Google Analytics or your social media dashboards, heat mapping software such as Hotjar, and screen recording software such as Lucky Orange all contain data from which you can draw conclusions. You can also get information about what prospects care about from searches they do online. This can be done by using keyword research tools such as Google Trends, Ahrefs, and SEMrush.
6. Real-Time User Testing
For apps, websites, and online-based experiences, you can gain insights into audience preferences by running A/B tests on certain variables of their experience. With A/B testing, you can watch in real-time as your user base interacts with elements such as copy, navigation, and button color or placement to determine what works best. Majority rules, and you’ll be able to draw conclusions from statistical proof.
7. Predictive Models
As far as statistics are concerned, predictive modeling is another source that some companies are beginning to use when they want to gain insights and make decisions. With machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s becoming more and more possible to use algorithms and statistical models to analyze large quantities of data and variables much better than you can without computer help. This can often be used to make “predictions” with regard to user or customer experience.
Now that you know how to acquire the information that is so vital to your company’s customer acquisition and to ensure that you truly are focused on your customers' needs, it’s time to put this knowledge to good use. Be bold as you endeavor to grow your customer/partner base-- you’ve got everything to gain. And ManoByte is here to help if you have any questions along the way.