Friday Highlight  

Tips for putting customers at the forefront of marketing

Tips for putting customers at the forefront of marketing

At a recent event, delegates were asked how often they undertook customer insight initiatives, whether for new proposition development, customer satisfaction tracking or market trends.

A shocking theme came to light that most had not done anyresearch in more than a year.

If customers are at the heart of your business, then the research team are surely pivotal.

This is particularly the case when it comes to driving and advising the business on customer experience, identifying customer needs, informing new product development, segmentation and understanding consumer behaviour.

A customer-focused approach leads to higher retention and cross sales opportunities - and is something which is tricky for your competitors to replicate.

A proactive insights team, rather than one that operates as a support service to your business, will drive change and keep it customer centric and innovative. Businesses that have the insights team front and centre deliver value propositions that foster repeat business.

Successful businesses are built on a robust foundation of data (customer, product use, research and contextual), to drive superior decisions, experiences and propositions.  

What are the pitfalls?

Business issues: Not understanding your customers’ needs leads to a lack of loyalty, extended time to resolve complaints and dissatisfaction, as well as high marketing costs to acquire new customers.

Flawed decision making: Propositions designed internally but never tested. The “we know best syndrome” invariably leads to creating a product or service that fails to connect,and costs time and money.

Actionable insight:Insight is about a proactive approach to understanding your markets and customers. Too often, money is spent on focus groups and surveys but little action is generated, or research ignored if it does not give the desired answer.

Some real examples of insights:

● A customer scoring nine or 10 in satisfaction is three times more likely to return. A customer scoring eight, however, behaves very differently and is significantly less likely to buy again.

● Where more time was spent coaching service teams who, in turn, spent more time talking to customers, there was an uplift in sales of more than 25 per cent when customer feedback was played back to the team daily.

● Customers wanting a transparent cash Isa with a clear rate, loyalty bonus and easy one-click transfer application to an investment Isa resulted in rapid uptake of the product in a very commoditised market, with over 2,000 accounts opened in a matter of days.

To set up a customer centric organisation you need the following basics:

  1. Culture - “the customer is king”:Instil the desire to understand and make use of customer insight and market intelligence across the business, making it a natural part of conversations. Consider this as a continuous flow, not occasional ad hoc projects.
  2. Process: A clearly defined process which drives action based on customer insight and timely and effectively collected data. Set up regular meetings with business functions to track insight, interpretation and action.
  3. Access: Business managers need to have access to dynamic dashboards, videos and customer alerts where continuously generated insights are posted. The research manager must set up business meetings with each function to analyse feedback and actionability.

Placing the customer at the heart of the business is not expensive:

  1. Know your business and your customer

Review the insights you have in place, such as satisfaction surveys, feedback forms, desk research, or press and industry statistics. Educate all areas of the business to be curious about customers. For example, IT and operations should support better service, and finance should understand the dynamics of pricing models against profits and customer demand.