We’re experiencing a cultural shift toward an always-on, instant-gratification society. Customers, thanks to the Internet, social media tools, and mobile devices, are more informed, more empowered, and more demanding than ever before. And, for many marketers, it’s tough to keep up.
The collaborative nature of social media tools has enabled customers to collect and disseminate an overwhelming amount of facts, reviews, and opinions about companies and their products, services, and prices. Plus, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices, customers can do this remotely at any time, from any place. Customers are using mobile devices to communicate with companies via phone, email, text, and the Web 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This leaves many organizations swimming in sea of customer data that’s growing exponentially, and it doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon.
To determine the implications for marketers, I joined Dave Frankland, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, and Jeff Gilleland, global strategist of SAS Customer Intelligence Solutions on the Webcast, “The Customer Intelligence Strategy: Evolving Relationships With Today’s Highly Empowered Customers.” First, it’s important to note that not all data is intelligence, which is naturally more desirable to marketers. So, for the purposes of the discussion, we focused on Forrester Research’s Customer Intelligence Maturity Model, which outlines the three different stages of customer intelligence: functional intelligence (the least advanced), marketing intelligence (more advanced), and strategic intelligence (the most advanced).
Strategic intelligence — which is shared across the enterprise internally and externally — is the most desirable, according to Frankland. When applying strategic intelligence, Frankland maintains, organizations can recognize significant increases in areas such as campaign metrics, customer satisfaction, customer retention, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and customer lifetime value. To get to the point in which your organization is consistently benefiting from strategic intelligence, a lot needs to happen. However, to get you started, here’s a list of five tips taken from the Webcast, “The Customer Intelligence Strategy: Evolving Relationships with Today’s Highly Empowered Customers.”
1. Determine what your biggest challenges are as a marketer. In many cases, it’s keeping up with the pace of change and the amount of data generated from a variety of channels, including social media and mobile devices. Otherwise, it could be dealing with newly empowered and more demanding customers, the diminished value of mass marketing, or the demand for more marketing accountability. Armed with this information, you’ll know where to focus your attention first.
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of your customer communication strategy and determine where your organization might be falling short. Are your marketing messages relevant to the wants and needs of your customers? For example, in a study asking customers if e-mail is relevant to their wants and needs, 48 percent strongly disagreed. That’s alarming! — and it’s partly why there’s such a big disconnect between companies and their customers.
3. Understand what kind of customer intelligence your organization is currently using. Is it functional intelligence, marketing intelligence, or strategic intelligence?
4. In addition to trusted technologies, consider some new and promising tools as well. With the overwhelming amount of data on the Internet it can be difficult to determine what your customers really think about your company, its products, or services. A good place to start, though, is with social media monitoring tools that can reveal general attitudinal trends.
5. Pay attention to the people and culture inside your organization. Hire and train marketers to focus on new areas, such as listening platforms, Web communities, and Web analytics. Make sure that marketing scientists speak the business language, not just numbers. Marketing practitioners must broaden their focus to include new communication channels. And, customer strategists must focus on the customer experience and the bottom line.
Positioning your organization to use strategic intelligence is a pretty significant strategic shift and it’s not one to be taken lightly. Consider the advice from respected industry consultants and vendors before committing to this long-term strategy. But before you do, watch the full webcast: The customer intelligence strategy.