How to Create a Customer Insight Strategy

The best way to address any situation is to first zoom out and get the lay of the land. When it comes to customer experience and your customer insight strategy, it’s no different. How can you give your users what they need if you haven’t asked them about it?

What is customer insights?
What is customer insights?

By learning the ins-and-outs of your customers’ experiences, desires and their expectations of your product you can create a strategy to wow them. If you haven’t taken the time to learn what your customers want, you won’t know where to start. You don’t know what you don’t know, as they say.

But it’s not enough just to know. You have to go one step further. Nowadays, you need to craft all of those insights into a strategy that allows all of the teams within your company to band together and serve the common good.

Let’s talk about why that is.

Why Build a Customer Insight Strategy?

You might be thinking to yourself that your organization has served your customers well enough without a defined customer insight strategy. If the customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS) surveys that you’ve got in place help you understand how your customers feel, why would you change them?

Even if you are already using one or more existing strategies, understanding how they interact with each other within a customer insight strategy can help individual teams make even more customer-focused decisions. Those decisions then funnel up to impact key metrics like retention and customer value over time.

Here are four ways that building a customer insight strategy will help you grow your business:

Create a better product strategy

If you’ve made a product that you think serves your customers’ needs, but you haven’t asked what they think, how do you actually know that it’s serving them? Using a customer insight strategy to measure how customers really feel helps you create more meaningful features moving forward.

Not only does it make for better experiences overall, but it allows you to take a data-driven approach to tailor every customer’s experience. Instead of relying on your sales team or marketing spend to bring in and retain new customers, you can rely on a highly-personalized (and delightful) customer experience to do so.

Learn how things affect your users

It can be easy to look past a support team member bringing up customer issues from their day-to-day tickets. Afterall, they only talk to a small fraction of your customers. However, if you have a whole boatload of data and metrics behind it, it’s a bit more difficult to argue against.

Having a customer insight strategy gives any member of the company the option to see this data. Then, they can get specific details about how customers currently feel about your product before you make large changes to it.

More efficient marketing

Did you know that in the United States, about 50-60% of the population already knows the type and brand of the clothing that they want to buy when they set out to shop? Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and convince someone that they need your product (when they’ve already probably decided on another), focus on being the best for the category that already knows they want you.

Customer insight strategies allow you to understand who your target customers are, what they want from you and why. With that research-based data right at your marketing team’s fingertips, you can maximize your marketing strategy and present exactly what your customers might be looking for at any given time.

Guides you towards better differentiation

According to Forrester, organizations with strategies driven by customer insight are currently growing eight times faster than the global GDP. In a world where almost anyone can create a business (and many companies are dying out just as quickly as they are born), anything that you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition is good.

Building a customer insight strategy will allow you to do just that. You can focus on understanding what your customers want from your product and how they want to access it. Then, you can build your product specifically around that customer-type’s needs. People prefer a product that meets their needs, rather than one they have to shoe-horn into to fit. Know what your customers want so that you can deliver on it.

How to Build a Customer Insight Strategy

Now that you understand the impact of having a customer insight strategy, the next step is to determine what it looks like at your company. Every company’s customer base is different. The ways that you already measure data may be different from your peers. That’s okay! It just means that your strategy will be, too.

Crafting a customer insight strategy should be both aspirational and grounded in your current state. You need to have a clear picture of what you are trying to fix right now and understand how that impacts your company’s future. To do that, you also need to know what customer metrics you have at your fingertips, what you still need to get, and who will be responsible for it.

Who is responsible for your customer insight strategy?

It might seem like it makes sense to put your customer support, customer success or customer experience teams in charge of managing your customer insight strategy. Surely, a customer-focused team would be best to handle a customer-facing metric aggregation.

However, larger, more established companies have proven that a customer insight strategy is best implemented cross-functionally. Take, for example, Unilever, who in 2015 generated $60 billion in revenue with a sales growth of 4.1%. In order for their customer insight strategy to perform at this level, they use buy-in and cross-functional support from the company’s 169,000 employees. Those employees span across all of their functions—from supply chain and R&D to marketing and finance.

It may not be feasible for your team to have full-time participants from each function, especially if you are small. Instead, choosing someone to spearhead the initiative with input from all of the different teams within your company will lead you to the best results. Pick intentionally, not just whoever seems to have the most free time to devote.

Questions to answer

To be intentional about creating your strategy, you need to evaluate your situation from different perspectives. The following questions can help you figure out what you need from your customer insight strategy, what kind of questions you need to answer, and how you should structure your reporting.

  1. What are your company’s key goals and how do they relate to your customer insights? 
    For example, if your company has a goal that is tied directly to ARR, what customer insights would you need to make an impact? In this case, retention and satisfaction may be useful correlative aspects of your customer insight strategy.

  2. How long do you think it will take to get accurate and meaningful data?
    If you don’t already have all of the data that you need in place, it will take you time and energy to get it. How much time do you think that will take, and does it fit into your timeline?

  3. How will you communicate data to key stakeholders?
    What is the best way to make this information accessible to team members that need it? Will you use a tool to present it, or will it be done manually by your team members?

  4. How will you analyze the data? Will you require tools or software to do so? 
    CX platforms like Lumoa can analyze all your customer data from different channels.

  5. What are your constraints? 
    Products are constrained by three points: budget/cost, time/schedule, and scope. How do these impact your plans?

Source: SmartSheet

6. What are your segments, and which ones do you want to gain more insights about here? You likely have a few different customer segments already defined. Before you get started, you should determine which segments will be included in your customer insight strategy.

7. What stats are you going to use, and do you already have the means to aggregate them? Consider if you may have some blind spots in your current statistics. Returning to the Unilever case study mentioned above: when analyzing chatter on social media, the team noticed a strong positive relationship between social media buzz and sales in most regions, but not all of them. A deeper look into the areas not affected by this increase showed that it was a lack of stock that was inhibiting sales. When it comes to data, try to aggregate it from as many points as you can—you never know what’s going to come in handy.

Create a journey map

Customer journey mapping is the process of your team visibly mapping out all of the points of contact that your customer has across your company. That means that product, your customer-facing teams, and marketing materials are all considered. By mapping everything from the first view of one of your blogs all the way through to your customers’ churn dates, you build a prediction for where your customers are going to go. Needless to say, it’s fairly integral to a customer insight strategy—in fact, it’s the best way to visualize it.

Source: MyCustomer

Beyond the boost in self-awareness that creating a journey map can provide, using a tool like this helps prep your individual teams to provide timely and proactive support. It’s also a boost for product functionality and marketing to your customers. For example, if you know that people usually reach out about a specific issue two weeks into their experience, you can trigger in-app onboarding to educate your users on best practices.

Having a visual representation of this data makes it easier to share in slides for company-wide presentations. It’s also easier to interpret for team members that may not be as interested in deep dives into more granular analytics.

Start collecting data

How do customers react to changes that you make based on your customer insight strategy? As important as it is to aggregate data to feed into the strategy, it’s also key to collect customer feedback to understand how it contributes back to your key company metrics. Nothing should ever remain static. If you discover that your changes aren’t performing as well as you would like, analyze where changes need to be made.

Continue to iterate

Nothing stays the same forever. Just like your customer journey map is always shifting and changing, so should your customer insight strategy. Be quick to adjust based on new discoveries or when things don’t work as expected.

You may want to pay closer attention to the aspects of your strategy that directly impact your customers. Instead, consider how your internal company members are absorbing your reports. If you are presenting data in a way that isn’t accessible or easily digestible to the team members that need it most, your customer insight strategy will not be as successful as it could be. After all, how useful is a map if the only people that understand it are its creators?

Conclusion

A customer insight strategy can have a huge impact on big numbers within your company strategy. Companies like Unilever have made strides in their bottom line and sales just by implementing cross-functional customer insight teams.

Before you dive into this process head first, analyze what your company is looking to achieve from it. How feasible are your goals with your current company structure, scope, and budget? Then, assess where most of your customers’ needs and desires are as your product experience currently stands.

Once you have a handle on where you are at currently, then you can start to branch out into innovative and exciting new customer insight strategies to inform product, marketing, support and everything in between.