Customer insights – Action instead of assumptions

Customer-centricity here, customer-centricity there. Most of the companies operate in a customer experience business and similarly, most of the companies recognize the importance of being customer-centric. Everyone wants to provide relevant products and services, launch effective campaigns and create purpose in their customers’ lives.

Considering this, it is surprising how little insight companies have on their customers - how often work is done within meeting rooms by few individuals making assumptions, never truly stepping into shoes of one’s customers.

Consider any successful company, for instance Apple or Patagonia: They are not selling just practicality in the form of phones and laptops and clothes and bags but are a central part of their customers’ everyday lives. They provide over-the-top practical solutions and simultaneously engage their customers on emotional levels. This could not be done without thorough customer understanding. And this is also where customer insights step in.

Holistic and forward-looking

With customer insights we don’t mean mere customer feedback or customer satisfaction surveys. Don’t get me wrong - customer feedback is important but it alone is not enough. Customer insights is not only about making people happy but about being relevant in their lives. In order to succeed you must deeply understand your target group, their motivations, needs, aspirations, pain points and fears and even anticipate their next move.

In the world changing at an ever-growing speed it is essential to keep up with the changes in consumer behavior. What worked yesterday or works today might not work tomorrow. Gathering insights should be continuous and always one step ahead. This can be done by combining customer-centricity with futures-oriented approach and by using predictive methods to anticipate what the consumers will do next.

Insight without action is a waste of time

Our focus and starting point is in the deep-down human needs that have potential to create value for both the customer and the business. However, even the best insights are useless if they are not turned into action. Customer insight projects should always be about ideas and execution plans - not about research and data.

You can start becoming more customer-centric and futures-oriented already today:

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
What kind of needs your customers have? What do they dream of, what do they fear, what kind of lifestyles do they have? Why do they want to buy your product or, why do they not? Don’t just sit on in front of your desk but go where your customers are, listen, ask and observe.

2. Choose a trend and evaluate its impact
What kind of trends or phenomena can you see affecting your customers’ lives? What is changing? What kind of impact it might have in your company? Evaluate both the threats and possibilities the trend might bring along.

3. Prepare for the future today
Future is built in today’s actions. What could you do already today to reach your goal? Even the smallest step towards the preferred future is a step to the right direction. Choose an action you could take already today to answer your customers’ evolving needs better than your competitors.

This brief exercise might reveal where you stand in terms of customer understanding and futures thinking. You might realize that your company already follows the path of customer-centricity but it might also reveal some knowledge gaps you have regarding your customers.

To be truly customer-centric, you might have to reshape your strategy and the way of viewing the world. But let me tell you, it is worth it. Not doing this might put your business under a risk of being overrun by those to whom human comes first.

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