Customer Intelligence: Benefits, Strategies and Challenges You Need to Know 

How well do you know your customers? Simple market research is all well and good, but it won’t give you the information you need. Today, businesses that succeed are those that know their customers inside out. For that, you’ll need strong customer intelligence. 

But what exactly is customer intelligence and how does it help you? In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know, and help you craft your intelligence strategy.

What is customer intelligence? 

Customer intelligence (or CI) is the analysis of customer data. It’s separate from business intelligence, which tells you what’s happening internally. CI helps you to understand a customer’s relationship with your business, and “what makes them tick.”

Many businesses now use CI to bolster artificial intelligence in customer experience. With a strong flow of data, AI can enhance experiences by deflecting calls and providing insights to agents.  

CI can help answer key questions that help drive your customer experience strategy forward. These include:

  • What kind of products do customers want to see? 
  • What is preventing important customer interactions (conversions) from occurring? 
  • What kind of content does the average customer consume online? 
  • What are the other kinds of businesses that buyers visit? 

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The benefits of customer intelligence

Still need convincing? These benefits illustrate why you should be investing more in customer intelligence. 

Spot pain points 

Pain points are the reason prospects aren’t sticking around and buying your products. It could be something as simple as a CTA being placed in an awkward position. Or, a pain point could be more serious. Perhaps a customer feels that your products are low quality and need to often be replaced. 

Whatever the case, it’s always best to address pain points early. Strong CI gives you a birds-eye view over customer journeys. You can spot issues before they become too problematic. 

Create personalized experiences 

Personalization has become a major priority for businesses in recent years. There’s a clear reason why – 56% of shoppers say they will become repeat buyers after a personalized experience. Ultimately, customers are now used to experiences that are tailored to them. Practically every major brand offers personalization. 

But to avoid being the odd one out and to deliver these experiences, you need data, and lots of it. This article from RudderStack illustrates the importance of having a single view of customer data when personalizing. The only way to achieve this is through a robust CI strategy. 

More loyal customers 

Customer intelligence helps you to put a strong focus on CX. You can ensure that every stage of the customer journey is smooth and optimized. This won’t go unnoticed, customers will feel more positive about your brand and be more likely to share their experiences with others. You’ll gain more referrals as well as a boost to customer lifetime value.

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5 top customer intelligence strategies 

By now you should have a clearer idea of why customer intelligence is important. Unless you want to get left behind, now is the time to boost your CI strategy. Here are some top tips for crafting a winning approach. 

Take a multi-channel approach to data collection

As mentioned, CI is built on lots of different forms of data. If you feel you don’t have enough data, you might be looking in the wrong places. Let’s explore some prime sources for data collection. 

Customer service calls 

Customer support will receive all sorts of calls. Some will be positive, many will be negative, but all provide valuable information. These calls are a window into customer opinions. What are the common pain points? What do customers like about your brand? 

Answering these questions is key to better CI, especially if you’re moving towards AI powered customer service. AI relies on historical data to help provide solutions to current customer queries. So, consider investing in call recording software to gather the data you need.

Website analytics 

For ecommerce businesses particularly, your website is a goldmine of data. The right analytics tools can provide real-time insights into customer activity on your site. You can understand how customers interact with content and the barriers to conversions. Analytics tools can also provide detailed reports on demographics, behaviors, interests, etc. 

Online surveys 

A survey might sound old-fashioned, but they’re a tried and tested approach that delivers results. With a survey, you can get to know customers on your terms. You can specify questions and get detailed answers. 

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Be specific 

We’ve explored some of the different sources for collecting data. But bear in mind that not all information will be useful to you. Collect too much data, and you’ll be sifting through entries to find the information that you need. This will slow productivity and stop you from making quick decisions. 

To help you find the information you need, it’s important to understand the different types of data available. Look at the list below, you may already have an abundance of certain forms of data. There may also be some areas where you lack data – focus on these. 

  • Transactional data – Collected during the purchasing process. It includes information such as the order amount, purchase method, and time of the order. 
  • Demographic data – Relates to characteristics of customers, including age, gender, location, and occupation. 
  • Psychographic data – Provides actionable insights into the personality of your customers. Psychographic data could relate to hobbies, political views, and customer preferences for content. 
  • Behavioral data – This helps to understand how consumers interact with your brand. Examples include, webpage visits, file downloads, and other conversion data. 
  • Attitudinal data – Offers a window into how customer sentiment could relate to pain points, feedback surveys, and online reviews.   

Chose measurable goals 

By now, you’ve probably got a better idea of the types of data that you want to collect. But before you get too carried away, take a moment to think about your objectives. Gathering data without a plan is pointless. 

Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking at generative AI use cases. Will AI help with your marketing, product development, or customer support? “All of the above” isn’t a realistic answer. You need to identify solid objectives to work towards. 

Each goal should also be assigned a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Think of these in a similar way to how road signs help you track your progress to reaching your destination. Keeping a close on KPIs is the only way of staying on-track with your data strategy.

Below are some examples of goals and relevant KPIs. 

  • Increase conversions by 30% – Conversion rate 
  • Double the average amount spent per order  – Average order value 
  • Increase customer happiness – Customer satisfaction rate 

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Consider cloud storage 

Depending on the scale of your data collection, storage could be a challenge. Remember, information needs to be accessible to teams regardless of location. That means you’ll need a dedicated server space to house your data. 

This can be expensive, you’ll need to pay not only for equipment, but maintenance. And of course, the more data you have, the more expensive that storage becomes. Cloud storage is a much cheaper, scalable alternative. Maintenance and upkeep are handled by the provider. You only pay for as much storage as you need, and rent additional space when required.    

Prioritize compliance 

Data collection can be a risky business. People are growing increasingly concerned about their data and how it is being used. This has spawned new legislation, such as the EU’s GDPR. At the heart of many of these laws is consent. To remain compliant, you must gather customer consent before gathering any data.  

Of course, legislation changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you operate in multiple markets it’s worth seeking legal advice before putting your CI strategy into action. 

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Challenges of customer intelligence 

Although an effective customer intelligence strategy brings many advantages, it also represents several challenges. Bear the following factors in mind before kickstarting your CI strategy. 

  • Ethicacy – As mentioned, Customers have become more wary about how businesses use their data. Collecting too much data risks harming customer trust. 
  • Departmental collaboration – Departments often become siloed, damaging communication. You may need to overcome this issue before you can unify your data.
  • Data quality – Not all the data you collect will be relevant or accurate. Data will need constant oversight to ensure quality.
  • Technicality – Data analytics can be challenging. You may need assistance from an analytics agency to get full value from your data. 

Customer intelligence is key 

In a world where data is essential, customer intelligence should be a priority. It’s the key to understanding your customers on a deeper level. From boosted loyalty to improved experiences, CI brings real benefits to your business. 

Of course, to reap these rewards you need a winning strategy. This begins by identifying clear goals and understanding the kind of data you need to collect. Remember, data collection can be risky. Make sure you understand the legal implications before beginning.

You read our tips, so now why not try them out for yourself? See how greater customer intelligence can take your business to the next level. 

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