The Power of Insights

By:
07/08/2016
CMO: Numbers that Count

Companies focusing on customer experience as a key differentiator are able to stand apart in a sea of sameness. Lately, I’ve been intrigued by the insights that come from this focus on the “cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time,” as customer experience is described in an article from Harvard Business Review.

L.L. Bean and Nordstrom have built their reputations and differentiated their companies in a crowded marketplace with a customer-first approach which has served them well for more than 100 years. Technology marketers are using this same approach to distinguish themselves from competitors. By doing so, they can escape simple toe-to-toe product functionality comparisons that rarely inform the customer’s decision process.

With this heightened focus on the customer experience comes storehouses of data, but collecting terabytes of data is only the first chapter. The data needs to tell its story, and the insights gained from this data are guiding next-generation marketers to better serve their existing customers, find new markets and shape product development.

In speaking to IDG’s customers around the world, I’ve been struck by the unexpected insights that have come from their focus on customer experience. I recently met with Whitney Bouck, COO of HelloSign. For Hellosign, creating a “delightful” end user experience is key when speaking to prospects, customers and developers. This empathy for the customer extended to the design of their API documentation, which HelloSign approached with the same care and attention as every other customer touch point. And the insights proved that it paid off with increased adoption and reduced implementation time.

Product development is being shaped by insights from unexpected places as well. Consider IFTTT. This service acts as “connective tissue,” or the missing API between unaffiliated software, hardware and services. It allows users to connect Twitter and Facebook, for example, so that changing one profile photo updates the other. IFTTT also connects to IoT applications, so a user could make their lights flash if there is a hurricane warning, or if their sports team happened to win the NBA Finals (I’m looking at you, Cleveland).

IFTTT also provides a new feedback loop, showing manufacturers how users can extend their products into functional areas they may not have previously considered. These insights can lead to future product development and even extend the product lifecycle. For example, BMW labs incorporated IFTTT into a widget enabling car owners to try out ConnectedDrive services, such as allowing car owners to  text their children when they approach their schools, or even to automatically email drivers a map of where they parked. Watching how customers extend their product, IFTTT and BMW Labs have created a real-world R&D lab, which allows them to offer these updates to a broader customer base. This dynamic has the potential to redefine product lifecycles across a wide-range of industries.

Salesforce has mastered studying data to uncover valuable insights. Simon Mulcahy, Interim CMO of Salesforce talked about how the company is using these insights to suggest next steps for customer outreach at exactly the right time, whether for sales, marketing or customer service. For example, Salesforce’s IoT Cloud can read signals from connected devices and proactively provides the insights needed to enable customer service to contact an end-user about a service issue even before they know a problem has occurred.

With IDG’s nearly 50 years of editorial expertise, tech buyers around the world turn to our expert insight and advice. We’ve guided clients, readers and attendees through generations of technological change that have fundamentally reshaped their professional and personal lives.

The data that IDG gains from these audiences forms a unique picture of their purchasing intent. Through both declared data and their actions, the audience tells us what they want, allowing us to identify the companies and individuals that matter most to marketers and to put these insights to work.

I’d like to hear from you. How are you employing the insight gained from your customer data in your sales, marketing and customer service efforts? How does your company use these insights to shape the customer experience? Let’s continue the conversation @joshdlondon

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