It’s never been so easy for customers to voice their opinions, preferences and concerns. In turn, businesses have never had such opportunity to learn from their customers. But all too often businesses fail to harness the full potential of this opportunity.
The main reason companies fail to make the most of customer insight is through failing to understand what insight is. It’s not simply a piece of information, but rather something deeper. One of the best definitions of insight is an understanding of cause and effect: that is, not simply knowing a fact, but knowing what causes that fact to be true and how it fits into a wider context.
Often customer insight can involve marketers finding a different perspective on what they already ‘know’. For instance, customers may tell a company that a particular feature is the reason they choose a product in the relevant sector. However, framing the research question in a different way, or using a different insight analysis method, might reveal that what they really like about the feature is that it solves a specific problem. For example, Helen Edwards in Marketing Week details how Pampers mistakenly believed parents were most concerned about nappies keeping babies dry — it turned out their real underlying concern was the interrupted sleep that resulted from leaks.
This insight could allow a company to develop a better or cheaper feature that solves the same problem in a more attractive and marketable product.
The real goal of a customer insight team is to reveal something that a business can act upon. It’s not simply a quest for knowledge, but rather a search for a way in which the business can better serve customers and gain a competitive advantage over rivals.
With this in mind, a customer insight strategy will often need to use more open-ended questions or ask customers to think about a product or service in an alternative way. Without such an approach, the risk is that all a company gets from its research is confirmation of something that it already knows.