Over the last few years the pace to please and impress B2B prospects has become relentless.  The consumerization of business, at least in B2B purchasing, is here now, and the days of pushing sales through a naïve and passive buyer are never coming back.

Altus has seen client score cards and weighting push customer intelligence (CI) well up into the top 3 of the 21 High Performance Revenue elements.

In a world dominated by data, the success of any company rests in how well data is both transferred to prospects about your offering and the quality of information you have collected about the prospect.

If you’re fortunate, and the inquiry is inbound, then the burden is on marketing to convey the offering specific to both the industry, company and individual. In outbound, approaching the prospect needs to be personalized and compelling to their pain to earn a response.

What Exactly is CI?

Customer intelligence is the process of collecting data about customers in order to accurately portray the relationship between the organization and its client-base. Customer intelligence strives to answer the “why” behind customer behavior and opinion. Why do customers act or react the way they do in particular situations?

In essence, when utilized correctly, CI should drive prospect efficiency, promote customer loyalty, and portray your company as a trusted brand that your customers need and clearly understand. The end goal of CI is to bubble above the noise, reduce friction in sales, and predict and remedy issues pertaining to your customer base before they arise.

Why Does CI Matter?

The customer has access to many different options and various forms of data when making purchasing decisions. For example, in a recent study researchers found that 90% of people who read online reviews when making a decision were influenced by positive reviews and 86% reported that their decision was impacted by reading negative reviews.

Cultivating strategy informed by customer intelligence allows sales and marketing teams to execute strategic plans and decisions in order to maximize sales cycles, conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Facing Competition

When utilized correctly, CI has the potential to propel one your company well beyond your competitors. 84% of executives recognize the importance of customer-centric experience and strategies, however, only 14% of those executives report having strong capabilities in that area. This leaves many organizations vulnerable to other companies with more data-driven strategies and investments to optimize rates of customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Utilizing CI in Daily Practice

CI is primarily composed of three different feedback sources: direct, indirect, and inferred.

  • Direct feedback, such as customer surveys or customer-written reviews, tend to be the most polarized of the three feedback sources. This data is important to identify pain points in the customer experience and area for improvement to tailor the organization even closer to the customer’s needs.
  • Indirect feedback is the data that reveals what customers think and feel about a company via social network interactions and engagement, in particular.
  • Inferred feedback is the category of data that includes demographic information (gender, age, marital status, education, location, and employment), purchase history, and cookies, among many other types of data that inform the customer’s profile.

Once these forms of data are collected, the next step is to identify your organization’s top priorities in sales and marketing. For example, customer feedback can help inform personalized product recommendations, which increase conversions by 150% and average order value by 50%. Additionally, customer loyalty and retention can be optimized by better customer service effectiveness by gathering data on pain points during the transactional experience.

Other actionable items include geo-targeting, persona-based email blasts, and monitoring user flows on-site to minimize issues during the user’s transaction and overall experience.

Key Takeaways

Any strategy that relies on customer intelligence should help customers relate to your brand. A customer is more likely to be loyal if they can clearly visualize themselves benefitting from your product or service.

CI should be used to create pathways of communication between the customer and organization in order to minimize future issues. Investing in data-driven analytics can greatly aid in promoting customer satisfaction and helps to create actionable items to optimize the user’s experience with your company.