Customer Insight: understanding the client as engine for growth

Valentino Pitzolu
Manager at KPMG Advisory SpA

Customer insight is the lifeblood for those companies that place their customer at the heart of their strategy. This knowledge, when properly managed within the organization, triggers innovation, customization and experience design, and as a consequence becomes a true driver for growth. That’s what emerged from the latest study by KPMG Nunwood published in the UK “Ignite Growth - Connecting insight to action”.

Customer insight allows companies to predict changes in the needs of individual consumers, and provide the organization with the necessary tools to interact with customers before they even realize themselves they have such needs. The challenge for businesses is to find ways to enhance customer insight teams, and drive change in the whole company through them.

KPMG’s research examined specific tactics used by the most visionary companies, which allowed their customer insight specialists to infuse the customer’s voice into the whole organization, convincing their co-workers to incorporate it in their decision making too.

Thousands of customer assessments, collected by KPMG in the 21 countries where the Six Pillars customer experience analysis was conducted, show that customer-centric companies consistently deliver experiences that satisfy and engage their supporters. In return, they reward the brands with loyalty, word of mouth and high purchasing rates.


From customer insight to action


In most companies, there is a fundamental problem in the way customer insight is used for driving change: there is a huge gap between departments in charge of listening and understanding customers (increasingly common in companies), and the ability on the organization’s part to assimilate these inputs and act accordingly.

Examples from the best ranking customer experience companies in the UK show how customer insight professionals and their executives were able to turn those inputs into a competitive advantage.

The research included Barclays. Consumers felt that the bank had a very effective process for managing the loss of cards, blocking them immediately upon reporting. However, this meant that the customer had to wait for the new card to arrive. The insight said that about 15% of customers found the card afterwards. For this reason, Barclays introduced a temporary lock function via app, that could be canceled in the case the card was found. The result was increased customer satisfaction, reduced number of incoming calls to the support center, reduced interruptions for the customer and reduced creation and delivery costs for new cards.

Another example is Co-op Insurance, which used the customer insight to drive investment in new products (e.g. insurances for customers with specific clinical situations), in the digital field and in data collection and analysis, leading to growth (new products) and efficiency (lower service costs).


How to build an ecosystem of customer knowledge in your company


The study also focuses in depth on the best practices found to characterize the best performing brands. This set of practices is defined as the "knowledge ecosystem", i.e. the key factors that play a role in the collection, management and activation of customer insight.

Normally, the knowledge ecosystem operates on three levels:

  1. Integrate data:

It’s referred to the management and organization of data as defined by business requirements. It embraces the acquisition of insights from internal and external sources, including traditional inquiries (e.g. feedback, surveys, etc.) and digital sources (behavioral, social, operational, etc.), and the process of aggregation and sharing of that data culture. To this end, the importance of Content Intelligence technologies is evident, thanks to its native ability to steady collect and store data on customer behavior in the various stages of their Journey. 

  1. Incite action:

It consists of the different tools that drive business action, such as prescriptive analysis and business understanding, including methodologies, analytical techniques and structures to be encouraged as well in guiding the company. It relies on the ability of the customer insight team to analyze, contextualize, persuade and influence

  1. Ignite growth

It means having a culture and an environment where intuition actually drives business. It refers to right governance, operational "closing the loop”s, and how strategic initiatives are selected according to the needs expressed by customers. In short, it represents the ability and the commitment of the organization to use customer insight in the right way. 

To sum up, the knowledge ecosystem is a set of people, processes, data and procedures that enable a company to transform its customers' problems into new solutions. The companies that were able to create one were the most performing in terms of customer experience and growth.