Customer Intelligence: What is It and How to Capture It
All the decisions you make in running your business are in one way or another related to how well you know your customers.
What features do they need in your products and what features are redundant?
How do they feel about your content strategy?
How do they engage with your website and convert?
How much do they like your product and recommend it to others?
So if you’re running a Saas business, capturing customer intelligence is a top priority for you. In this article, we’ll explain what customer intelligence (CI) is, why it’s important, and how you can capture it.
What is Customer Intelligence (CI)?
Customer intelligence (CI) is the process of gathering customer data from internal and external sources, and studying that data to reveal customer behavior. Using insights from customer intelligence, businesses can understand customer motivations, pain points, interests, and needs.
Businesses that manage to gather customer intelligence are able to pinpoint customer expectations and offer customized solutions that meet customer expectations.
And, of course, it helps businesses reshape customer relations and adjust product development in line with customer expectations. In today’s highly competitive business environment, businesses of all sizes have to invest in CI technologies and tools that’ll help them strengthen customer relations and sustain their growth.
Why is Customer Intelligence important?
68% of customers say they expect all experiences to be personalized. In the age of skyrocketing customer expectations, businesses have to genuinely understand their target market, and its trends and changing conditions. Whether you’re selling at B2B or B2C, you have to continuously investigate what motivates your customers to work with you, and how you can tap into their emotions to keep them as customers.
In essence, CI allows you to take a few steps back from your sales, marketing, and product strategies, and see your business from the customers’ perspective. Essentially, CI helps you:
- Sell more by understanding prospects’ pain points and successfully addressing them
- Use marketing resources efficiently by capturing market gaps and positioning properly
- Make data-driven product development decisions to drive customer loyalty
- Improve campaign efficiency by investing in the right channels and using the correct messaging
- Improve anticipatory customer support. CI helps your customer support team know about your customers’ paint points and issues while using your product, and so they can provide more inclusive guidance.
If you haven’t yet attempted to collect customer intelligence, it’s safe to say that you have a lot to uncover. So how do you start?
4 ways to capture Customer Intelligence
Here are 4 ways to capture customer intelligence:
1- Observe behavioral data
Looking at behavioral data on your website or app is the best way to gather customer intelligence.
Behavioral data reveals which design elements from your website’s or app’s appearance and messaging are actually appealing to your audience, and which fail to do so. By analyzing behavioral data, you can understand what makes a prospect become a customer as well as what makes them leave your website or app without even considering your offer.
As you can imagine there are an infinite number of ways you can reshape the elements of your platforms and eventually the experience you offer. The perfect way to distinguish between what works and what doesn’t is simply testing both. Run A/B tests across your platforms to reveal that information.
For instance, you might want to know why the bounce rate of your homepage is so high. A higher than average bounce rate can stem from complicated messaging that involves heavy jargon, an unappealing design that confuses the visitor, or too many products or solutions that leave the visitor overwhelmed.
But, it could also be a completely different reason, right?
Instead of guessing what’s wrong, run A/B tests addressing all possibilities to find out what is actually wrong. Some UX software tools allow you to run different kinds of testing on your website’s or app’s user interface.
2- Use CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools help you track all interactions between your customers and your team. This means that they help you keep track of your sales and marketing campaigns’ performance, and develop better strategies.
Consider a SaaS provider that gets loads of traction, but fails to convert the incoming traffic. The root cause may be a marketing or sales problem. The store owner must first identify the root cause:
- Are they targeting the wrong kind of audience in marketing campaigns?
- Are the salespeople failing to convert a well-targeted audience?
Using a CRM tool, the solution provider can identify where a visitor comes from, where they land on the website, how much time they spend on each landing page, and where they exit from. They can monitor the sales reps’ interactions with the customer, and what kind of action those interactions triggered. This way, the business can see the roadblocks in customer journey and resolve problems by taking the necessary measures.
Say for example, this SaaS provider finds out that around 97% of the new website sessions lasted less than a few seconds. It’s highly likely that their marketing campaigns fail to attract qualified leads, because those visitors seem to mistakenly land on the website.
Instead of working on improving their on-site experience, the solution provider must first work on creating targeted marketing campaigns that bring in the right audience.
3- Bring together all your data with a SaaS analytics tool
One of the most gruesome yet common mistakes that businesses fall into is investing in gathering chunks of data without having the capacity to make use of them. Statista research found that among B2B marketers in the US, Canada and the UK, 44% used between 5 to 10 tools as a part of their martech stack. Another 30% used 11 to 20 tools, while 6% used more than 21.
While data flows in, very few businesses use systems that merge all the data from across platforms to drive meaningful results. The data coming from all those tools remains siloed and becomes obsolete without turning into insights.
What do I mean by that?
Imagine your marketing team came up with a brilliant email campaign idea, and naturally, you want to know how it’ll unfold. Your email service provider, say, Moosend, gives you all the campaign metrics you need, right? You’ll already have the click-through rate, the response rate, and a bit of an idea on how the messaging performed against previous campaigns, etc with the information provided by your email service provider.
Now, say that the campaign actually performed well, and you’ve traced 20 customers who started their free demo coming from the campaign. Among those 20, 15 moved on with a paid plan. Your previous campaign converted 10 leads, so you’re inclined to think this campaign was more targeted and more appealing to your audience.
However, the reality is not that simple. What if among those 15 leads that came with the latest campaign, only 5 stayed after 3 months? Or, what if the 10 leads that came with the previous campaign subscribed to the premium-tier plans that’ll generate more profits in the long run? If you only look at the metrics of email campaigns, your immediate impression will be that the recent campaign performed better. But you need to look at things from a broader perspective.
Now, not a single email software will provide you with this kind of data. What you need to do is to use a SaaS analytics software that’ll merge data from all the tools in your martech stack. Using a reporting and analytics tool, you can trace customer journeys from start till the end, and monitor every touchpoint a customer can possibly have .
You can accurately measure the success of your marketing and sales efforts, based on how they contribute to your profitability and growth in the long run. Doing this will help you allocate resources efficiently and thrive even on a tight budget.
4- Listen to the Voice of Customer (VoC)
Voice of Customer is a technique that marketers use to identify the gap between customer expectations and their experiences. VoC compiles all customer feedback about a business, pouring in from different resources. It helps businesses gather information that’ll help close the gap by meeting customer expectations at every stage of a customer journey from awareness through customer onboarding and retention.
So, how do you capture the VoC?
Conduct surveys every now and then to provide your customers a space where they can raise concerns and talk about both negative and positive experiences with your brand. You can ask customers about almost anything: what they think about your content creation, how they feel using your software, how pleased they are with your customer support, which feature updates they’d like to see in near future, and so on.
4-2 Live Chat and Sales Reps’ Calls
Monitoring live chat data and conversations over calls booked by your sales reps is revealing. Suppose for instance, you’ve launched an intuitive feature that replaced one that was not functioning properly. However, your customers might not find it ‘intuitive’ enough to start using it right away.
Since you haven’t anticipated the confusion, you haven’t prepared a quick guide that’ll help with feature adoption. If this truly is a recurring problem, you’ll see the feature mentioned again and again in live chat conversations, where your users will come to seek help. If you capture VoC over live chat and call data, you’ll overcome customer problems before the negative experience turns into resentment.
4-3 Social listening
Social listening should be an indispensable part of your social media strategy. Social listening tools offer trend analysis features, which help you learn what your industry talks about, and how customer expectations are reshaped with the trends over time. But, more importantly, they allow you to detect when someone mentioned your brand. This is a great opportunity to grasp if you want to know how your audience perceives your brand.
With effective social listening, you can interact with people who mention positive and negative experiences to celebrate the first and resolve the latter. It’s crucial that brands engage with customers over social channels, closely observe their social media analytics, and have a solid social presence.
To Wrap Up:
Customer intelligence (CI) is the best way to make informed decisions in any area of a SaaS business. However, the process might seem a bit daunting at the beginning. There are many sources to pull data from and too many faulty ways to generate insights. If you’re a beginner, make sure to start with the most basic ways to capture voice of customer (VoC):
- Survey customers,
- Take advantage of your customer conversations such as live chat, sales calls, emails, etc.
- and keep an eye on your social media mentions and customer sentiments.
More advanced ways to capture customer intelligence include observing behavioral data either through dedicated tools or running A/B tests, using a CRM to keep track of your customer data and finally using Saas analytics software such as HockeyStack that brings data from various sources in one place and gives you a bird’s-eye view on your campaign’s performance.