When a business idea makes the cover of Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly, and the Nottingham City Council website, you can bet it’s become a buzzword. Analytics-driven “customer insight” has become ubiquitous from business schools to board rooms.
While it’s certainly true that consumer insight will change the way an organization builds its business and customer strategies, there are limits to its operational effectiveness.
In reality, no organization can manage new “insights” every day, every week or even every month, because then they’d be reevaluating their product mix, business focus, target customer and marketing communications all the time, which besides being impractical would obviously be silly.
Insights that emerge from data are valuable to setting organizational and market strategy. This is the value of companies like ZS Associates and IMS Health that create annual or biannual studies for territory alignment or for refreshing a decile analysis for the pharmaceutical industry.
But I would argue that an equally valuable capability is operational decision support, supported by what could be called “customer intelligence.”
Insight is episodic, but decision support is ongoing
Insight-driven goals and metrics are developed for how a product, given certain business assumptions, should perform in the marketplace. Insights are distilled from market and customer data.
Insight is used to achieve differentiation. It’s critical to defining and creating value. Insight, I would suggest, is at the segment or persona level. But once the marketing strategy is determined and we know where we’re going, what our product is and who our target audience is, then customer acquisition and activation becomes the focus, driven by individual customer intelligence.
Customer intelligence is an operationalized decision support process at the individual and segment customer level. It determines messaging, targeting, channel and pacing for all of the practical weekly and monthly marketing campaign decisions.