5 Trends that Will Redefine Customer Insights

Do you have a voice of the customer (VoC) program? In a new research report, Temkin Group identifies five trends that will change how companies handle VoC programs.
Customer Experience

Do you have a voice of the customer (VoC) program? If not, you need one. If you have one, then it will likely look dramatically different in a few years.

In a new research report, The Future of Customer Experience Insights, Temkin Group identifies five trends that will change how companies handle VoC programs.

Today's VoC Programs Are Flawed

Listening to customers makes a lot of sense. So it's no surprise that most companies report that they get value from their VoC programs. But our research into how companies run these efforts show that they suffer from:

  • Bloated surveys. Companies fall into the trap of trying to answer every potential question from every customer who answers a survey. The result? Overly long surveys.
  • Isolated datasets. Companies tend to do analyses on individual data sources, like surveys and transactional data. This approach provides a very narrow understanding of customers.
  • Generic insights. The reliance on statistical analysis requires large datasets and meaningful variances in the data. As a result, myriad "less significant" insights that might help people across the company are hopelessly lost.
  • Inflexible processes. Customer insights efforts often raise more questions than they answer. However, insights efforts are often set up as fixed projects with no bandwidth reserved for the ongoing answering of new questions.
  • Outdated technology. Doing analysis in SPSS and delivering the insights in PowerPoint may have been the state-of-the-art technologies 10 years ago, but now this approach is too slow and unproductive.

5 Trends That Will Reshape Customer Insights

Customer insights are a critical input to customer experience (and overall business) success. That's why organizations will increasingly renovate their outdated VoC programs. We expect next generation customer insights efforts to be designed around five principles:

  1. Deep empathy, not stacks of metrics. Insights teams spend far too much time creating surveys and presenting data without any business context. Traditional, quantitative approaches fail to fully uncover customer needs, motivations, and emotions, which leaves decision-makers to fill in the gaps based on their own assumptions. That's why companies need to tap into more qualitative methods to uncover richer insights.
  2. Continuous insights, not periodic studies. Although insights groups are well suited to run projects that answer isolated questions based on periodic studies, this approach does not provide the optimal flow of insights for the decision-makers managing ongoing operations. Companies instead need to build capabilities that continuously uncover useful customer insights. Insights teams need to take responsibility for continuously educating the company about problems and opportunities.
  3. Customer journeys, not isolated interactions. It's easy to isolate incidents and find ways to improve a single problem; however, without context for the customers' overall situation, these improvements tend to be only incremental. To truly improve the customer experience, companies need to know the full context of the interaction and how it fits into the customer journey. Insights teams need to analyze and frame findings in the context of customer goals and their paths to achieving these goals.
  4. Useful prescriptions, not past descriptions. As the quality and quantity of the data increases, companies expect more and more out of their data. This means that insights groups must be pioneers, continuously exploring the data to help decision-makers discern how to take action based on its insights. This goes well beyond high-level read-outs of interesting findings; it requires insights groups to develop a stronger understanding of both what decisions will be made and how these decisions will be made. Insights teams need to tap into predictive analytics to optimize how they help the company make decisions that will improve the business.
  5. Enterprise intelligence, not customer feedback. Many companies have built their insights programs around collecting customer feedback. While this data is valuable, it only tells a small portion of the story. Insights teams need to tap into the entire ecosystem of data from feedback, interactions, and operations to fully understand what customers are thinking, doing, and feeling. Companies need to combine customer feedback with the multitude of other insight sources including employees, partners, and CRM systems.

Start Building New Skills

As you revamp your VoC activities, you'll find that your customer insights teams will need to develop new skills. In our report, we identify five areas of capabilities that will be needed: research generalists, business consultants, compelling communicators, portfolio managers, and value creators.