Customer relationships are at the core of an insight-driven business

Keeping up with rising customer expectations is one of the most pressing issues facing companies today. Whether they are shopping in your store, interacting with your employees on the phone or ordering online, customers want more seamless and better experiences every time.

This need to keep up with customer expectations is why more companies are committing to a customer-centric culture—a commitment that requires being insight-driven.

In a recent webinar, How insight-driven businesses capitalize on customer intelligence, Tyler Douglas, our chief marketing and strategy officer, explored the playbook of some of the world’s fastest growing companies. Michelle S. Bishop, a principal consultant from Forrester, joined Tyler as a special guest.

Watch an on-demand recording of the webinar now, or check out our recap below.

What’s different about insight-driven businesses?

Forrester has done a ton of research on insight-driven businesses and has identified important characteristics that make these companies stand out. An understanding of these differentiators, according to Tyler, is key to emulating the success of insight-driven organizations.

The first differentiator is growth. According to the Forrester, insight-driven businesses are growing 30% annually—eight times faster than the global GDP. Collectively, they are set to make $1.8 trillion by 2021. “These high-growth companies are stealing customers from conventional brands,” said Tyler.

Second, these companies are customer obsessed. They put all their effort in winning, serving and retaining customers with world-class experiences.

Third, because they are customer-obsessed, these companies have made customer insight a strategic priority. Insight-driven companies have invested in technology and people to turn data into insight they can use to improve their business.

Finally, businesses that are insight-driven have build a culture of continuous experimentation. Recognizing that customers change quickly, these businesses have put in place processes and technology that enable them to be more agile and learn more quickly about their customers.

These characteristics make it clear that insight-driven businesses are built differently—they possess a different DNA.

Changing your company DNA to become insight-driven

Building an insight-driven company requires a deliberate effort to focus on customer relationships, according to Tyler. He shared three mindsets that, together, build the culture necessary to transform your company into an insight-driven organization.

The first mindset is adopting a relationship approach with customers. “In insight-driven companies,” Tyler explained, “the mandate to create, grow and learn from customer relationships starts at the very top.” At GoDaddy, for example, the CEO has mandated that every employee should speak to customers. Customer engagement is fostered across the organization, not just in customer service or marketing departments.


“In insight-driven companies, the mandate to create, grow and learn from customer relationships starts at the very top.”


The second mindset has to do with the use of customer data. Too many companies collect terabytes of data every year without it being useful. They make two fundamental errors: they don’t collect the right kind of data, and they don’t know how to analyze it in a way that provides insight. “Behavioral and transactional data only provide a partial picture,” Tyler said. “It tells you what customers do, but not why.”

Insight-driven businesses pursue all relevant data to get a more holistic picture of their customers. They use transactional data, but they also use and learn from emotion, attitude and intent data to get to the “why” of customer behavior.

The third mindset is about sharing back insight with your customers. This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but studies support it: an Edelman study found that 90% of people want brands to share more, yet only 10% think that brands actually do it well. Another study, from MIT, found that companies that share with their customers build their influence and get more out of their analytics programs. At the very least, companies need to close the feedback loop with their customers and share how customer insight is shaping business decisions.

“Sharing with your customers boosts engagement, but it also develops your relationship with them and becomes a source of additional insight,” explained Tyler. For example, Ventura Foods— a leading manufacturer of custom and branded dressings, sauces, mayos, oils, etc.— recently told us that they use their Member Hub on the Vision Critical platform to share with their community members how their feedback is shaping business decisions. In addition, the company uses the Hub to share thought leadership content. This content boosts engagement on their Hub, but, more interestingly, all that engagement has also become a source of new learning. The company’s marketing, research and other teams can look at the authentic conversations on the Member Hub and uncover additional insight that Ventura Foods wasn’t exposed to before.

Getting better insight results in better business outcomes, which improves customer relationships. According to Tyler, this creates a virtuous cycle as better customer relationships enable your company to get higher quality insight. The combination of these three elements is what we mean by a relationship-based approach to customer intelligence.

A relationship-based approach delivers substantial ROI

We’ve seen the relationship-based approach work for hundreds of brands. We believe it in so much that we recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to apply its Total Economic Impact (TEI) methodology. The resulting study, The Total Economic Impact of Vision Critical, not only speaks to the ROI of our platform—it also reveals the impact of adopting a relationship-based approach to customer intelligence gathering.


“The Vision Critical platform delivers agile insight that drives corporate-level KPIs, improves the customer experience and increases customer lifetime value.” 


Bishop’s presentation examined key findings from the study. “The Vision Critical platform delivers agile insight that drives corporate-level KPIs, improves the customer experience and increases customer lifetime value,” she said. Forrester’s study concluded that the Vision Critical platform could help companies realize an ROI of 590%, a net present value of $4.4 million and an almost immediate payback. Vision Critical customers who spoke to Forrester also revealed that they saw $1.7 million in business value enabled directly by customer insight, $4.7 million in increased sales and $2.9 million in cost avoidance from traditional market research methods.

By having a platform where they could engage with thousands of customers who have opted in to provide feedback, companies have also seen democratization of insight, according to Bishop. Managers of different business units are more empowered to run their research activities and make decisions based on data.

A relationship-based approach is more important than ever

Answering a question from a webinar attendee, Tyler said recent controversies around customer data and privacy should be a wake-up call for businesses today.

“In general, consumers are becoming more aware of the value of their own data,” Tyler explained. “Customers, rightfully so, want to know what’s in it for them.”

He added that, moving forward, brands need to really justify the existing data they have stored and prove to their customers that they are only obtaining and using necessary data. Companies also need to demonstrate that they are delivering more personalized, valuable experiences to customers in exchange for that data.

Tyler concluded, “the value for your customers needs to be obvious.”

To learn more about building an insight-driven company, watch an on-demand recording of our webinar now.

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