By Hugo Spalding, managing director, MSP
Customer insight can be defined as an understanding of what customers want and how and when they make buying decisions. Customer insight is gained in many ways from customer complaints to actively seeking their views on your products, services and the way in which you do business.
Social media including Facebook are good tools to use to listen to your customers, engage in dialogue and gain insight. More traditional ways include customer panels and surveys, both online and offline. Customer panels are groups of people who come together to discuss topics that are of interest to the client company about their products and services.
Surveys are being used increasingly as they can cover a variety of topics and that both quantitative and qualitative analysis can be obtained. Current technology developments allow online surveys to be taken both locally and by using web based technology, remotely.
Many studies show that the speed of response to customers is a vital element in building customer loyalty. This is especially the case in customer service situation where a bad experience is quickly shared over the internet.
But speed of response is also important in sales situations too. In a typical situation the length of time between gathering customer data and fulfilling the request can be critical and mean the difference between converting a prospect into a customer or losing the customer altogether.
It can also be shown that a lost customer or prospect can have a negative effect on others who are considering purchase.
Developing customer insight using tools such as CRM systems, social media and surveys will help the business delivery great customer service which in turn helps to generate a feeling of being listened to by the customer. This will engender positive attitudes to the business and will ensure the customer returns for further purchases but further enhance loyalty and reputation as the word spreads. Great customer service is a key pillar in driving reputation, revenues and repeat business.
Obtaining customer data and insight through the latest technological advances provides a number of benefits. The data gathering process can be integrated into the sales presentation providing a better, more personalised customer experience. The data, customer preferences, decision criteria and so much more can be obtained in a natural and non threatening way. This enhanced individual customer experience helps to build loyalty.
These same technological advances also allow the real time integration of the customer data into back office systems such as CRM for real time reporting and dissemination of leads. Thus a fully qualified lead can be provided to a sales agent or distributor within seconds of the information being collected, complete with preferences, decision criteria and the like. Early follow up of these leads is more likely to result in a sale to a satisfied customer.
Regular and particular communication to customers that have been segmented on the basis of data obtained will result in cross sell and up sell opportunities. This will not only enhance sales but profitability is improved customer acquisition costs are reduced.
The online survey approach can be used for discovering trends in the market. Regular surveys at time intervals will show how markets and tastes change. This can be used to inform a product or service development programme. Having this sort of information will not only provide sustained profitable growth but will ensure that your business will provide your customers with products and services they need both now and into the foreseeable future.
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