Getting past customer intelligence jargon

12 Jan 16 Getting past customer intelligence jargon

Everyone agrees that the customer is the proverbial king, and many companies have processes for gathering some customer feedback. The successful ones are those that actually listen to what their customers are saying.

Since customers are the raison d’être of an organisation, they can potentially provide valuable insights for product design, marketing strategies, sales strategies, etc.

However, tapping into the customers’ minds requires carefully designed research. The kind of research you use will depend on what answers or inputs you are seeking. Most good research studies need to be customised to the needs of the organisation.

There are many different types of customer intelligence studies, and in case are confused with the jargon, here is a quick 101 on three broad types of the most frequently conducted customer intelligence studies.

They differ in terms of their objectives, methodologies, who they seek to help and the benefits they bring to the organisation.

 Voice of CustomerCustomer SatisfactionWin-Loss
Key objectiveCan have multiple objectives - Inputs for product development, benchmarking, product positioning, pricing, improve sales, etc
Typically studies are done to understand the customers' needs and perceptions
Measure customer happiness with the products/services and identify the key pain-points for customersImprove sales conversion by getting a perspective on the company's strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis competitors from existing customers and lost prospects
Internal customerProduct development/ marketing/ sales/ delivery/ operationsDelivery / operationsSales team
WhoCurrent and potential customersCurrent customersCurrent customers and lost prospects
HowPrimary research (surveys, focus groups, qualitative interviews, etc)Surveys (online, telephonic or face-to-face)Qualitative, open ended interviews/discussions with respondents
FormatCombination of close ended and open ended discussions, focus groupsGenerally close ended surveysOpen ended discussions
Time taken10-30 minutes per respondent<10 minutes per respondent10-20 minutes per respondent
When One-off studies to support strategic decision-makingPeriodic activity (generally annual)After winning or losing the customer contract
Benefits• Improve product/service delivery
• Inputs into product design
• Improve marketing
• Identify new customer segments/ business opportunities
• Better customer service/ product quality
• Address customer grievances and hence improve NPS (Net Promoter Score)
• Better sales conversion ratio/lower cost of sales
• Better marketing strategy
• Better competitive strategy

Many times the terminologies “Voice of customer” and “customer satisfaction” are used interchangeably. The name itself is of little consequence.Whatever type of customer intelligence research you opt for, and whatever you decide to call it, good research design is critical. With a badly designed study, you could end up with findings that are not really actionable.

If you want to know more about customer intelligence research, contact us!

Varsha Chitale
Varsha Chitale

Varsha led the competitive intelligence practice at ValueNotes. As part of her drive to educate India Inc. on the merits of competitive intelligence, she often conducted webinars and seminars on CI for senior executives of Indian companies.

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