In this age of increasing competition with other businesses, customer intelligence (CI) is becoming a prominent competitive advantage. We have already known that being customer-centric is paramount for the growth of any SaaS company. But there are various facets of becoming a customer-centric organization.
Many companies claim that they are customer-centric, but they struggle to grasp what it means in its entirety. To be customer-centric, you need to be in tuned with your customers. You need to understand their challenges, pain-points, interests, and behavior to better serve them. And this is where customer intelligence comes into the picture.
What is Customer Intelligence?
It is the process of collecting and analyzing customer data with the purpose of getting a better understanding of your customers. There might be a lot of data about a customer they leave during various interactions with your company. Through CI, you collect that data and glean valuable insights to understand customer behavior. This in turn is used towards taking informed actions for the growth of your business.
CI also helps in creating customer personas and holding relevant communication with them. When you interact with customers using the data you collected, it makes them feel more valued, understood, and appreciated. This results in creating a stronger bond with your customers entailing customer loyalty and long-term relationships, which are essential for any successful company in a competitive environment.
Why is Customer Intelligence Important?
CI is an important tool to leverage the potential of a customer towards greater customer satisfaction and customer retention. There are various channels through which a customer interacts with your brand. This includes their web-activity, in-app activity, support calls, feedback, etc. CI is the data-driven strategy that helps you gather this data scattered along different channels to create meaningful insight out of those. It’s also called a 360-degree customer view.
When you truly understand your customer, you can talk to them in their own language. E.g., if you know their interest, you can start your conversation around that which would help you fetch their attention towards your brand. When you have a clear picture of your customer’s interests and behavior, you would be better able to communicate your message to them and manage them more effectively which makes them feel more connected to your brand. And that’s a prerequisite for any effective customer communication. In fact, according to a recent report published by SmartKarrot, 78% of the respondents say that artificial Intelligence will make CS management more effective.
How CI Helps in Customer Success?
Many customer success goals and activities can be accomplished effectively through client intelligence. We’ll discuss a few of them below.
Through the right technological infrastructure, you can collate all the valuable customer data to create various customer segments. These segmentations can be formed based on their use cases and behaviors. After segmentation, it becomes easier for you to target customers for tech-touchpoints and personalized communications.
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Churn Analysis and Prevention
CI becomes very helpful in the analysis of churn and thereby preventing it. Out of all the customers who churned, you can do a root cause analysis and find out what customers who churned had in common.
To find that, you need to dig into the transactional, behavioral, demographics, and usage data of those customers. A full-fledged customer intelligence management tool can help you study all these data in a meaningful way to identify patterns that are repetitive. Then you need to improvise on your customer success strategies to specifically improve those KPIs that are affecting customer churn.
Personalized Customer Experience
Personalized customer experience is key to promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. And customer intelligence solutions allow you to use the power of information towards that end. In fact, in a study, it was found that 58% of enterprise customers see a significant rise in customer loyalty through enhanced customer analysis (or intelligence).
Advanced Capabilities in Predicting Future Events
According to a report published by SmartKarrot, 71% of CS practitioners and respondents believe that the most advanced capability of an intelligent CS solution is its quality of predicting future events. With the data you’ll have from CI, you’ll be able to accurately predict customers that are likely to churn, renew, etc.
Helps Teams Form Better Customer Relationships
When you’re faced with economic uncertainties, companies find it tougher to acquire customers and then to retain them. That is when fostering closer relationships with your customers have proven to be helpful to outlast crises. Here, timely customer intelligence and thorough automation can go a long way in supporting customer-centric companies in their mission to understand and help make their customers successful on an ongoing basis.
Augment CSM Productivity
The same report by SmartKarrot also suggests that 81% say CSM Time Saved for Higher-Value tasks ss the most important benefit of CS automation. When CSMs can automatically gather the data they need, they can spend less time on manually finding that data and more time using it to help their customers succeed.
How to Improve Customer Intelligence?
Implementing customer intelligence in your business and improving its performance is key to your growth. You will be surprised to know that 70% of the organizations are struggling with their current customer intelligence process. Here are three steps you can use to implement CI in your organization.
- Create the right CI strategy
- Invest in data analytics technology
- Transform data into cross-functional information
Create the Right CI Strategy
To begin with, you must list out all the possible channels through which you can access customer data. They can be social media platforms, customer service departments, customer success meetings, quarterly business review meetings, and so on.
Then you need to create the right data structures to convert this data into meaningful information. This will involve automated rules which segment raw data to different useful information segments.
The strategy should include all the steps from collecting data, to segmenting it, to analyze them along with the goals that you intend to achieve. Goals can be customer retention, prevent churn, customer marketing, etc.
Invest in Data Analytics Technology
There are many big-data services that you can purchase like Google Cloud ML Engine. These services can help you conduct predictive analysis along with data modeling to use the data towards your end-goals. Through AI-based CI tools, you can scale and manage large portions of data and produce actionable insights for your business.
Only by leveraging the potential of AI can you make it a competitive advantage over other businesses in your niche.
Transform Data into Cross-functional Information
The information you would gain from AI-based customer intelligence analytics tools can be used in multiple avenues. You must use the data to enhance the efficiency and strategies of different departments. These can be:
- Marketing and sales: Use the customer information towards marketing to attract new customers.
- Product management: Based on customer likings and preferences, you can re-adjust your product map to become more customer-centric.
- Customer success: Through the right behavioral data, identify the opportunities to effectively engage with customers on a timely basis. Each touchpoint can be used to add more value to the customer.
Benefits of Customer Intelligence
1. Improves Production and Profitability Improvement: According to a report by Business Parlor, it has been found that by using big data analytics and intelligence, companies achieved 6% more productivity than when not used. This also augmented their marketing return by almost 15 – 20%.
2. Engages and attracts your customers: Wouldn’t it be nicer if you get the liberty to analyze historical profiles and purchases and predict the likelihood of a future activity at a customer level? With customer intelligence, you can easily study past purchase behavior and ascertain the probability of a customer making or not making a certain purchase. Now, when you correctly study and deploy that knowledge, you can attract, target customers and engage them better because now you have a better understanding of their interests.
3. Retains your customers: Customer retention, without a doubt, is a critical marketing activity that speaks highly of your business. That is when deploying customer intelligence can make things work in your favor.
4. Helps gain customer insights: Typically, companies can discover a ton of structured data for their customers using analytical tools. But for the collection of unstructured data, say from social media or internal data, customer intelligence can be highly effective in gaining insights about what the customers want.
Challenges of Customer Intelligence
1. Unable to capture all data: Since intelligence is not human-driven, it sometimes leads to some inconsistencies, making it cumbersome to always capture all the data. While difficulty in correlating data is a challenge faced by companies of all sizes in varying proportions, small and midsize businesses also find it difficult to capture all relevant data.
2. Manually correlating data to drive insights: Especially for small-scaled companies, it is not easy to correlate data and drive insights from intelligence-driven software. In fact, as per the report by SmartKarrot, 70% of companies are struggling with manual processes (32%), making sense of data (22%), and capturing data (16%).
3. Limitations of current tools: When asked to the respondents of the SmartKarrot survey about the biggest challenges for gaining CI, 46% of the midsize companies said that the limitations of current tools are one of them. It is mostly because the growing companies tend to outgrow the capabilities of their older tech stacks quickly.
How will Customer Success Transform into Customer Success Intelligence in Coming Years?
Here is our take on how customer success will transform into customer success intelligence in the coming years:
Empathy-based Intelligence Will Become the Norm
Emotional analytics has just started to take modern businesses to the next level through its predictive models and AI/ML to scrutinize human movements, word choices, voice tones, and facial expressions. Today, even before you interact with customer success, sales, or even customer support, they already have brief information about your previous interaction with the company. They even have the words or phrases they used to respond to get satisfactory results based on past interactions. Soon, we will see this becoming the norm. And more and more B2B SaaS companies will be using empathy-based intelligence in their businesses to derive the most out of customer intelligence.
AI-driven Decision-making Will Transform the Way CSMs Interact with Customers
AI-driven decision-making will be the next target for B2B SaaS organizations. It will provide a new advantage for CSMs. They’ll be able to make more data-driven decisions for their customers, more quickly and efficiently.
A Shift from Sentiment to Commitment as a Health Indicator
This will prove to be revolutionary for most B2B SaaS businesses. The reason is that sentiment on an NPS survey or support ticket does not provide a piece of sticky information about customer health as it is situational. But customer intelligence will be able to provide actual data your CSMs can use to gauge your customer’s health and act accordingly.
Customer Success Intelligence will Increase Revenue Growth
We will see customer success intelligence as a secret weapon that results in revenue growth in the near future. It will not simply act as a churn preventer. Increasingly B2B SaaS companies will look to follow product-led growth strategies and differentiate their product by enhancing the customer experience at every stage of the customer journey.
Customer success will become even more vital in the coming years. We are definitely going to see smarter, AI-driven conversations with customers. This will give your customer success teams data driven by insights and empathy that result in adoption, renewal, and expansion.
Customer intelligence cannot be fully utilized without highly intelligent data analytics software. You must know where to invest in your business to maximize your ROI, and one area that has substantial potential is CI.38
Gone are the days when you could rely solely on MS-excel or a CRM tool to gather useful information from the raw data. A highly sophisticated customer success platform can bring you the benefits of having a 360-degree view of customers. And that, if implemented correctly, can set you apart from your competitors.
Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.
Published October 13, 2020, Updated March 01, 2023