5 steps to customer intelligence success

CMO asks leading Aussie brands to share their top tips for actioning customer intelligence

So how can you better action customer intelligence? What are some of the key steps to consider when you’re building out your game plan?

Following on from CMO’s in-depth chat with four brands about their approach to actioning customer intelligence, we’ve pulled together a range of tips on how you can better action customer intelligence.

1.Know the good and the bad

Neds general manager of customer experience, Christian Bowman, says the very first step is to understand business goals and objectives.

“Once clear, it sets the scene to understand what's good and bad in the context of the requirements and priorities of the business. My first questions when I see any customer analytics or performance report is, ‘Is this good or bad? Why? and what can we do to do more of the good and less of the bad?’”

2.Be ready to change

Additionally, Bowman says the executive team needs to drive action and change.

“This means with limited resources, executives need to stop doing reports which don't equate to action and automate those as quickly as possible (even at the expense of losing some of the detail) and focus on finding actionable insights. Discontinue reporting just because that's how it's always been done.”

What also helps with ensuring a cohesive approach to actioning customer intelligence is to map it out in terms of simple questions. Neds has grouped into three categories: Base level, second level and top level questions.

Bowman says base level questions will reveal what you should know about your customer base including top acquisition channels, seasonality, ranked postcodes, and average transactions. Second level questions, meanwhile, will reveal information about attrition rate, return rate, customer lifetime value (CTLV), and time-based comparisons.

Top level questions - considered actionable insights - will ask the following: ‘What are the most impacting activities contributing to sales? Where are the growth opportunities? Why do customers choose us? Why do customers leave us? How can we can more of the good customers?

3. Get the business on board

In mobilising an organisation on the importance of CI, Optus head of customer experience, Charles Weiser, says it’s important to ensure business units care about how customers are interacting with the business.

“Regardless of the business you are in, customers are always seeking on-demand services and communications - social media never sleeps and we now have a new paradigm for customer intelligence.”  

Optus, which strives not to compare itself to traditional telcos, has started to track real-time customer sentiment for interactions across end-to-end customer journeys and customer corridors.

“We are utilising this data alongside operational data points to prioritise the developments required to deliver a world-class experience as a mobile led entertainment business,” Weiser says.

“Our up-to-date customer intelligence data can help us to not only rectify customer issues, but help us identify trends and make informed decisions about where to invest our digital and physical capabilities.”

4.Build a clear data strategy

Additionally, Weiser says if there was a ‘must have’ in terms of a company’s customer intelligence plan, it would be to ensure you have a clear strategy for the direction and outcomes of your customer experience. Then prioritise those data tools and customer intelligence capabilities required to close any gaps and/or to leverage any strengths existing in the business.

“Our goals is to understand our customer, anticipate their needs, build long term loyalty and ensure that we are able to deliver the best experience possible. Each of these goals requires a clear data strategy but requires different solutions which must interact to achieve those goals,” Weiser advises. “We are making material investments in our total ecosystem, architecture, capabilities and tools to achieve the goals I have expressed. A business cannot build out these technologies and capabilities sequentially or in isolation, they rely on each other to achieve the outcomes required.

"Businesses need to work in unison and interact with appropriate data strategies and tools in order to achieve a complete view of the customer journey.”

UBank CMO, Jo Kelly, agrees a clear strategy is key, given today’s customers are better informed, better connected and more demanding than ever before.

“Brands are faced with consumers who were once sceptical, but are now willing to handover more personal information in exchange for convenience and a tailored experience. These customer demands mean that brands can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach – customer intelligence has become crucial for any brand wanting to maintain engaged consumers.

5.Be prepared to take on emerging technology

Getting granular, Kelly says she recognises traditional technology doesn’t enable the company to deliver a personal customer experience. Instead, its strategy involves the rollout of artificial intelligence (AI) in a bid to bolster personalisation.   

“When it comes to knowing customers individually, AI is one of the biggest opportunities for personalisation,” she says. “Our journey with AI began with our ongoing partnership with IBM Watson, where we introduced RoboChat, Australia’s first chatbot to assist with online home loan applications. Our customers needed quick answers when applying for a home loan online, and with RoboChat, we’re able to deliver the support customers need.  

“As a digital-only business, we’re constantly innovating to keep up with customer demand. Our AI innovations like RoboChat and Robobrain, a hyper-personalised cognitive assistant for our customer service agents, are just the beginning of a long and exciting journey ahead.”

Like Kelly, Citta Design COO, Grant Taylor says, AI is the future for retail - and a key part of the CI strategy at the design firm.

“Moving forward, customers will expect predictive analytics and AI, not only at the back-end but from a customer perspective,” he says.  

An 8-point checklist to success when delivering CI

Neds’ Bowman has plenty of advice on delivering CI inside the organisation. Here’s his 8-point checklist to success.

  1. Solve business problems
  2. Communicate insights in the language of the business
  3. Educate the organisation Identifying champions who can continue to enhance and evolve the CI program
  4. It's about empowerment, so celebrate internal successes if they solve business problems via customer intelligence.
  5. Take practical approaches - Focus on answering questions and not just the technology.
  6. Sometimes you can just ask a customer to get an understanding of requirements for example instead of a multi-year development of technology or algorithms.
  7. Customer intelligence is a core competency and not a single project so resource and structure accordingly.
  8. Today's answers and insights aren't always the same tomorrow so check and verify core stats that are utilised for key decision making.


Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu 

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