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‘Best of’ customer intelligence insights from HBR

We’re all busy, especially marketers, so I’ve checked out the Harvard Business Review’s new Customer Intelligence Insight Center for you.  New content will be added over the next month with experts weighing in on cutting edge CI tools and technologies, big data challenges, privacy concerns and more.

There’s a wealth of information – with more to come till mid-September, but here are my top takeaways so far:

Pin down your customer intelligence objectives.
There are many different avenues to take in pursuing customer intelligence and no organization can pursue them all at once, says Tom Davenport in this post. For example, Segmentation is great, but it only works if you have the ability to treat different customers differently — and, as Davenport points out, many consumer products and services companies don’t.

If you’re looking to invest in CI and not sure where to start, Davenport advises serious consideration to your business situation, goals and the CI capabilities you need. Once you have your CI capabilities wish list, narrow the list down to the highest impact initiatives and choose the right tool for the job. Read the full article to see how Davenport walked through this process with a telecom company and the CI capabilities lists they came up with.

Marketers flunk the big data test.
It’s the era of big data, but a CEB study of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies found the vast majority of marketers still rely too much on intuition — while the few who do use data aggressively for the most part do it badly. Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird dug into the data and found that:

  • Most rely too much on gut
    On average, marketers depend on data for just 11% of all customer-related decisions.
  • A majority struggle with statistics
    When Spenner and Bird tested marketers’ statistical aptitude with five questions ranging from basic to intermediate, “almost half (44%) got four or more questions wrong and a mere 6% got all five right.”
  • Some are dangerously distracted by data
    “While most marketers underuse data, a small fraction (11% in this study) just can’t get enough,” note Spenner and Bird. “The problem is, they don’t have the statistical aptitude or judgment required to use data effectively. Every time they see a blip on the dashboard, they adjust — and end up changing direction so often that they lose sight of end goals.”

Check out the HBR Customer Intelligence Insight Center for more, and let me know your top takeaways!

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