Transforming Customer Insights Into Actionable Intelligence

From technology innovation to the workplace, the business landscape has been evolving rapidly, and companies now are tasked with adapting to fast change in a world of ongoing digital transformation.

However, there is one element that will remain a constant requirement for success: meeting the needs of customers and delivering a quality experience.

Nurturing customer relationships always has and always will be fundamental for company success. However, as the world becomes increasingly connected and more communications become instant, it arguably is more vital now than ever before.

Platforms such as social media and review sites offer customers the ability to voice their experiences to a global audience anywhere and at any time.

The Power of the Customer

While these global online channels pose huge advantages for brands receiving positive messages from customers about their service, they can prove hugely detrimental for those recognized for delivering a poor experience.

With messages now able to reach thousands of people around the world within moments, consumers can be some of the most influential brand ambassadors. Accounts of their experiences can reach a wealth of potential new customers and often can influence the decision-making process of others.

Around half of shoppers would try a new brand based on reviews (57 percent) or word of mouth (46 percent) alone, recent research suggests.

What’s more, consumer loyalty inevitably has been depreciating at the hands of technology and greater demand for fast and convenient exchanges. All too often, we see brands — particularly across the retail sector — face significant backlash from customers unhappy with the level of service and communication provided.

Companies that neglect the development of customer relationships at the very early stages risk losing customers before connections can be fully established.

Taking Action on Customer Insights

With competition growing in almost every industry worldwide, businesses need to take action to understand the standpoint of their customers better, and to use the insights gathered from those relationships to adapt and enhance the delivery of their future services.

Those on the receiving end ultimately are very well placed to expose common pain points and weaknesses in a product or service, offering businesses deeper insights into trends influencing the behavior and needs of those they ultimately want to reach.

Enabling greater interactions between staff and consumers can be extremely valuable in finding new ways to improve a business. However, decision makers must ensure they have the tools in place to give customers a voice, and then use them to evaluate their business and drive it forward.

Good reporting on customer relationships is therefore pivotal to a company’s performance strategy. As technology progresses, so should a company’s ability to drive success and efficiency through better customer insights.

Many successful businesses no longer view customer relationship management software as a way to gather customer information. They now see it as a productivity tool — a way to connect with customers intelligently — and, more crucially, a means to achieving better customer service success.

The value that these systems provide to businesses around the world is evident. CRM became the largest software market in 2017, according to Gartner, and it is tipped to see a further 16 percent growth by the end of this year.

The insights captured and stored within these tools are key to building a 360-degree view of customers in an ever growing pool of potential targets. However, the onboarding process of software-based solutions can prove challenging, particularly when it comes to traditional sales reps who often view these systems as tedious and unnecessary.

However, even the most diehard “pen and paper” sales people can be converted with the right piece of technology — one that helps them simplify their everyday tasks and improve performance.

By providing employees with the solutions needed to establish and foster customer relationships in a fast-paced environment, decision makers can ensure that they lead from the front to help turn customer insights into intelligence, and to enhance their service delivery and kickstart business growth.

Overcoming the Hurdles

Although it is clear that a greater investment in listening and learning from customers is important for success in the digital age, there are still some challenges that can arise when companies attempt to harness and apply this intelligence most effectively.

For example, with companies able to reach customers across a range of platforms and touchpoints, the pool of data that can be collected and analyzed has been growing continuously, and it takes many different forms.

Once staff are instructed to use customer experiences to inform their growth strategies, many companies can dedicate huge amounts of time and resource to analyzing this data, narrowing the window to develop an actionable strategy for improvement.

Using solutions to make this process as efficient as possible will ensure that businesses can maximize the opportunity to turn customer experiences into new opportunities for growth and improvement.

The prevalence of sophisticated analytics tools, which are able to track and review various metrics of customer engagement — such as rate, duration, and sentiment across a range of digital channels and CRM systems — now offer companies a means of automating the entire process.

Companies can gather and measure their interactions with current and potential customers quickly and effectively, feeding them back into their business to fuel their sales approach.

As technology continues to evolve, and smarter ways to analyze data arise, companies should aim to digitize the management of customer relationships and open their businesses up to the power they can realize from improved services.

By treating these relationships as valuable business assets, decision makers not only can sharpen the focus of employees, enabling them to make better customer connections, but also can build an effective course of business intelligence to enhance performance in the near future and beyond.

Michael FitzGerald

Michael FitzGerald is founder and CEO of OnePageCRM.

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