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Gaining Critical Insight to Grow Your Business

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Most companies have only two communications channels with customers: sales and complaints. Both of these are important: companies need to sell and customers need ways to seek redress. But neither tells a company what customers need in order to be successful. To ensure success, you must continuously discover and deliver what you know your customers and prospects need, want, and are willing to pay for.

There are four steps to success in this process:

  1. Proactively listen to customers in an organized, meaningful fashion
  2. Make customer data actionable
  3. Drive customer valued change throughout the entire organization
  4. Measure effects of the change

The first step is critical for the success of the remaining three.

Customer Insight Conduits
The fastest way to gain real insight into what customers need and want is by establishing Customer Insight Conduits. These Conduits help bridge the gap between company capabilities and market or customer needs.

Customer Insight Conduits are defined as channels through which information passes primarily from customers and the marketplace to a function within the company that is able to make data actionable and drive customer-valued change throughout the organization. These Conduits provide an early-warning system for problems. As problems are recognized, the Conduits serve as a diagnostic tool to help fully understand issues and determine the efficacy of solutions. In addition, the Conduits are a measurement vehicle to assess overall customer value and other metrics.

Here is just a handful of Customer Insight Channels that could be leveraged as a key component to help gather customer data that is then converted to insight, made actionable, and used to drive strategic, customer-centric change throughout the organization:

  • Customer advisory boards, comprised of economic buyers of your products/services from an appropriate sampling of the customer base
  • Technical advisory boards, comprised of those who are actually going to be using your products or taking advantage of your services
  • Customer conferences, where you roll out new products and/or service
  • Chat rooms and discussion boards that you host or monitor or both and where you gather ideas and identify problems through product discussion forums
  • On-site assistance for a day, in which you send an engineer, consultant or other appropriate person to a customers' site to help them gain the full benefit of your product/service

Using Customer Insight Conduits such as these and many others, companies can gain critical insight that, when made actionable, can:

  • Develop successful products and services
  • Differentiate from competitors effectively
  • Improve prices and margins
  • Attract & retain more profitable customers

What channels is your company using to discover and utilize customer insight?

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Categories: Chief Customer Officer | Customer Insight | Customer Loyalty | Customer Retention