So many of us strive to create greater customer relationships, but unfortunately the very idea remains a challenge for many companies. After a thorough analysis of the ACE Survey results, combined with interviews, and our own experience of serving a wide range of companies, we have come up with a few top suggestions. Our hope is that this insight will help you build more valuable customer relationships and create greater engagement.
- Your development and distribution of customer insight must be led by a senior executive with the ability to transform the culture and processes through which these insights are leveraged. This was made clear through our analysis of the results: although fewer than a quarter of our respondents had an executive level CI leader, those who did scored significantly better across every dimension of the survey, with an average total score of 3.1 compared with 2.4 (out of 4). You must remember that the effective use of CI is not merely a set of actions; it requires you to have a culture and vision that must emanate from leadership. The companies that are most successful in increasing customer value tend to incorporate customer intelligence into all facets of their organization, not just marketing. You’ll see customer insights influencing customer service, operations, product development, training, recruiting, etc. It becomes part of the very fabric of the company.
- Get your data house in order. Our survey respondents found that data and technology are the lowest functioning areas in their organizations. In particular, knowledge of the data and access to it were common issues. By now, every company recognizes that attaining a single view of the customer is the best practice. But what are the major obstacles preventing your organization from reaching this end goal? Understanding the data you have, what is incrementally needed, how it should be analyzed, and how and to whom it should be presented are major challenges that companies are grappling with. A second issue is fragmentation of tools and technologies. Many companies still allow their various departments to fund and procure their own tools and technologies, resulting in the lack of data, systems, and marketing integration we saw in our ACE survey results.
- You must develop a clear vision of the future of customer intelligence and a compelling business case plan. Execute the plan iteratively, with incremental wins along the way. But, remember, and stay true to, the vision, even if there are deviations along the path to get there. Assess your particular situation (i.e., legacy infrastructure and organization), budgets, skill gaps, etc. Figure out how best to leverage what you have—carefully investing in strategic upgrades that will get the most out of the current environment, while getting rid of baggage that is dragging you down.
Most companies seem to realize that there is value in customer intelligence and insight, that it can be effectively monetized. Many even have a plan for doing so. That is good news, because there is no longer a need to evangelize or convince management to invest in this area. The challenge is in generating that insight in an operationally useful way, accessing the data, understanding it, and manipulating and presenting it in a form that is useful to those who can use it. Being focused on the outcome and eliminating the obstacles related to data and process, companies can unlock this potential, but that often requires commitment and support from executive management.
What were your final impressions of the ACE Survey? What did you find most helpful for your own organization? Your questions, comments, and insights are always welcome!