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Customer Intelligence Tech: Worth the Investment?

January 07, 2016 | By Jacques Begin

  • Customer intelligence management solutions help b-to-b companies collect, analyze and respond to customer feedback
  • The maturity of customer relationships helps determine the value of intelligence
  • Information on customers often resides in silos across the enterprise and isn’t shared

Several years back, MasterCard blasted the airwaves with its emotionally poignant “Priceless” ads. The formula would be something like, Carpet cleaner: $4. New slippers: $25. The look on your daughter’s face when she sees her new puppy…priceless. For those of you who still can’t recall – or are too young to remember – take a look here.

It’s no secret that customer intelligence technology often comes with a hefty price tag, but does that same formula apply? Would you say that the customer intelligence that technology can deliver is, in fact, priceless?

Customer intelligence management solutions (e.g. Confirmit, MaritzCX, Medallia, Qualtrics and Walker Information) collect and analyze customer feedback from multiple channels to provide insights relevant to customer growth, retention and advocacy efforts. These solutions comprise features and functionality including:

  • Reporting and analytics. To support statistical analysis of customer feedback data and represent the data with user-friendly reporting and dashboarding capabilities.
  • Surveying. To build and launch surveys. Tools should render surveys for Web and mobile devices.
  • Action planning. For case management and to set up shared groups, triggers, and escalation and resolution processes. In some cases, this can be automated or partially automated.
  • Sentiment analysis. To analyze unstructured data (e.g. comments provided in response to open-ended questions in surveys) and determine customer sentiment.

Costs for these solutions vary widely, with access to minimal functionality (for example, surveying only) running in the hundreds to low thousands of dollars per year, while combinations of self-service tools and managed service survey design, data collection and analysis can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

When considering investing in a customer intelligence solution, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do we get customer feedback? Audit your current technologies and service agencies that are used both within your organization and by other departments (like customer service). This can reveal valuable data that is collected in one place but not shared across the enterprise. Tools like social media intelligence and Web analytics are often collecting – or can be configured to collect – customer data. Take that data and share and socialize it across your enterprise and leverage it for your customer marketing efforts.
  • How easy is it to get customer information? Is the information collected about customers and the processes by which you collect it adequate? Poll the customers who provide you feedback about how you could make data collection easier. Be sure to also ask the customers who aren’t providing feedback why they aren’t doing so. If surveying is a painstakingly manual endeavor, or if you have no way to determine sentiment or analyze unstructured feedback on a large scale, a customer intelligence management solution will allow you to add those capabilities.
  • How do we use customer intelligence? If your organization doesn’t regularly gather customer intelligence or if that data sits around collecting dust with no action plan, then I’ve got some bad news for you … a new customer intelligence management solution isn’t going to magically fix that. These systems can make data collection easier, faster and better, but you need to understand your organization’s maturity in terms of customer marketing and its proficiency and appetite for data-driven decisionmaking to get the benefits these systems provide.

Customer intelligence that goes unused is worse than worthless, because it costs you time, money and effort. However, customer intelligence that leads to greater customer insights, satisfaction, loyalty and retention is truly priceless.

Jacques Begin

Jacques is a Research Director in the Technology and Services practice at SiriusDecisions. He brings over 15 years of technology research, application and implementation expertise and insight to SiriusDecisions. He has proven success in account management, research and analysis, content development and delivery and communications and collaboration. Follow Jacques on Twitter @JacquesBegin22.