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Customer Intelligence: Why It Matters For Your Business

Chris Thomas

7 November 2021

7 min read

Despite what you might be thinking, the phrase customer intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with your customers’ IQ levels!

Instead, customer intelligence is all about gathering data to better understand why customers act in the way they do. 

In turn, businesses can use these data points to better predict customer actions and improve the customer experience

But how is this achieved, exactly? How do customer intelligence insights lead to better business outcomes? 

How do you study customers to develop intelligence data in the first place? 

Let’s dive in and take a look!

What is Customer Intelligence?

In today’s digital-driven world, customers share information about themselves every time they interact with your business.

They share their interests, their demographic details, their preferences, their needs, and their wants.

Customer intelligence is the collection and analysis of this data. With this data then at hand, companies can make more informed improvements to their current processes.

For instance, customer intelligence insights can help provide a more accurate approach to customer personalization. 

By creating more precise customer personas, further customer experience improvements can be made in turn. 

It means businesses can analyze past behavior and better predict the likelihood of their customers’ future actions.

How Do I Collect Customer Data?

In simple terms, customer data can be collected using a range of customer experience technologies.

Here are some of the most commonly used technologies at your disposal:

  • Enterprise survey software
  • Feedback management software
  • Social media listening software
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) software
  • Analytics and data management software

What Are the Benefits of Customer Intelligence Insights?

When it comes to customer data analysis, there are many benefits for your business – from predicting customer behavior to fostering customer loyalty.

Let’s take a look at the core benefits in turn.

1. Customer Intelligence Strategies Capture More Data

As we’ve seen, there are various ways in which you can collect data to provide actionable insights for your business.

That said, the data collected from these sources can sometimes get confusing – especially if you’re keeping track of multiple channels. 

For example, structured data from analytics tools can certainly aid customer experience improvements, but what about unstructured data like long-form survey comments?

Customer experience survey platforms can make collecting this kind of data easy.

What’s more, customer insights are more complete and accurate when using such tools. It means customer experience improvements can be actioned across all customer touchpoints with ease.

2. Customer Intelligence Improves Personalization

68% of consumers will spend more with brands that ‘understand and treat them like individuals.’

Analyzing customer data can significantly improve how you gather the insights necessary to foster these kinds of relationships. In fact, it can help you move from offering standard personalization to hyper-personalization.

What’s more, this data can also reveal actionable insights that you can use to improve both your efficiency and your profitability. This is achieved through the creation of more accurate customer segments. 

Many companies claim to know what their customers want, but analyzing data points enables you to focus on the products and services that prove most profitable.

3. Customer Intelligence Improves Retention

Customer retention is a vital metric to measure. After all, retaining customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

In fact, signing up new customers can cost as much as 5x more! 

Customer intelligence helps you improve this metric through root cause analysis.

Behavioral data is a powerful indicator of how your customers are going to act in the future. By analyzing this data, you can pinpoint common customer behavior patterns.

From there, these data sets enable you to get ahead of any issues, whether it’s a breakdown in customer relationships or a fundamental problem with your product. 

It allows you to make the necessary changes to prevent further customer losses.

4. Customer Intelligence Improves Product Decisions

The insights you collect through customer intelligence can also aid the development of your product strategy moving forward.

Customer pain points and preferences are some of the best sources for innovation. As Bill Gates says, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

It means that negative feedback can actually be an opportunity for your business. 

And after all, a more intuitive and helpful product is always going to be an easier sell – both for customers and your sales team.

How Do I Get Started With a Customer Intelligence Strategy?

To begin developing customer intelligence insights, you’ll need to take six key steps.

Follow the tips below, and you’ll be better equipped to start optimizing your customer interactions.

1. Create a Customer-Centric Culture

To reap the rewards customer intelligence has to offer, you first need to foster a customer-centric culture within your business.

Collecting customer data can take place across several departments. As such, you need to make sure each team member is pulling in the same direction. 

If they’re not, you could end up with inaccurate data. 

This means that predictions about your customers’ future behavior could prove ill-informed. Behavioural segmentation could also be affected, leading to a waste in company resources.

This is hardly the way to give yourself a competitive advantage.

Instead, make sure the customer is at the heart of everything you and your team do. Not only will it help with your customer intelligence strategy, but it’ll help with your brand communication too.

2. Adopt a Customer Experience Survey Platform

The next step is choosing customer experience technology that can help you collect customer data most effectively.

At this point, the main questions you want to consider are what kind of data you’d like to collect and what insights you’d like to gain. 

Just remember to proceed with caution here. With businesses losing up to 20% of their revenue due to poor decisions from bad data, you don’t want to fall short by recording the wrong metrics! 

Either way, depending on your needs as a business, you may want to deploy a customer intelligence platform at this point.

Alternatively, customer experience and NPS surveys are a great way to collect core intelligence – especially if your main aim is to improve customer relations.

Whatever option you decide on, make sure your chosen software provides you with the ability to receive regular survey reports, as well as informative survey results. It’ll make it all the easier for you to perform in-depth statistical analysis.

For more on how to get the best results from customer-facing surveys, check out our guide on survey best practices

3. Collect Data

The next step in the customer intelligence process is deploying your customer experience tech to collect customer data.

However, before doing so, make sure you consider what channels you’re targeting to capture information. 

For instance, are you mainly targeting customers on your site with in-context surveys? 

What about social media users or outreach to bloggers and reviewers with experience in your niche?

However many channels you settle on, reaching out to a wider audience can mean more comprehensive results. 

That said, always bear in mind the type of data you’re planning to target. You don’t want to target the wrong audience if you’re looking for specific results!

Before moving on, let’s take a quick look at an example of the types of data you’d collect in an example scenario. 

Collecting customer data

Say you run an eCommerce store with a shopping cart abandonment rate of 95%. 

With the average abandonment rate being 88%, you’ve rightly decided to improve your processes to bring your figure down. 

After some research, you discover that your customer decision journey needs streamlining. To improve it, you decide to conduct a wide-ranging customer survey. 

In that case, you’d most likely collect the following kinds of data:

  • Demographic: This data includes details like the customers’ age and gender.
  • Behavioral: This data includes details like their channel of choice – for instance, mobile vs desktop.
  • Transactional: This data includes what they purchased and how.

As you can see, all of the above areas could help inform improvements to the customer journey.

For instance, demographic data could be collected to help better inform your customer personas. In turn, you could adjust your customer touchpoints accordingly.

Behavioral data uncovers how your customers interact with you. As such, this information could help you identify your most important contact channels.

Finally, transactional data can help you identify your most popular products. This will not only help you to make smarter product choices in the future, but it’ll also give you an idea about the best products to showcase on your site – leading to a more streamlined customer journey and more sales overall.

4. Analyze Customer Data

Now to the fun part! This process is often one of the most surprising aspects of gathering customer intelligence.

This is because we often develop our own assumptions about how our customers act and think.

Of course, a large part of customer intelligence is finding patterns and trends that can help us improve in the future.

Nevertheless, hard data will often reveal our original assumptions to be unfounded, inaccurate, or just plain wrong!

So, make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice: remember not to jump to conclusions before or after analyzing your data.

For instance, if you’ve collected very low scoring NPS data from your site, you can’t put the results down to all of your customers having a bad day!

Instead, consider all possibilities when examining customer analytics – a critical point to consider when reviewing metric-based data.

Either way, from here on out, it’s time to dig deep, uncover the areas in which you need to improve, and get ready to start experimenting with some new processes.

5. Take action!

This step is the most rewarding part of deploying a customer intelligence strategy. 

Now that you’ve uncovered the patterns and trends behind your customer data, you can start to explore the best ways of improving your customer experience.

This could involve a variety of different strategies, depending on what the customer analytics have told you.

Perhaps your transactional data has revealed that a particular product is rarely considered by your customers.

Perhaps your behavioral data has revealed that a large percentage of your customer journey takes place on mobile rather than desktop.

Either way, it’s time to start putting your data to good use in the form of well-planned and data-backed action.

You could start by updating your user segmentation details to better target new customers in the future.

You could address negative aspects of the customer experience and fix any customer pain points that have become evident.

Whatever action you take, if you make sure you’re acting from bonafide customer intelligence, it’ll significantly increase your likelihood of success.

6. Repeat

Collecting customer intelligence isn’t a ‘one and done’ kind of strategy. Instead, collecting and analyzing data is an ongoing journey.

As such, customer intelligence data needs to be kept up to date and relevant.

For instance, if you’ve leveraged NPS surveys on your site, you’ll need to keep checking customer sentiment following any updates in your company’s processes or products.

If you collect transactional data, you’ll need to refresh it regularly to make sure you’re keeping track of your customers and how they purchase from you.

Whatever intelligence you’ve collected, your business will always be one step ahead of the game if you continually monitor customer data, customer behavior, and customer preferences.

Customer intelligence in summary

As a business leader, customer intelligence is something that should be at the forefront of your mind.

By giving you more data at your disposal, customer intelligence allows you better insights into your target audience. And with better insights into your customers’ wants, needs, and preferences, you’re all the more equipped to increase sales and satisfaction, as well as long-term loyalty. 

So don’t wait around. With Survey Sparrow, you can start collecting customer intelligence today.

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas is a Content Marketing Executive at Talkative, an omnichannel customer service platform that provides businesses with a smarter way to talk to their online customers.

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