c07-idc-market-spotlight-3473

Customer Insights Platform:
Developing Insights and Beyond

What is a customer insights platform?

A customer insights platform helps companies use, analyze, govern, manage, and share data—all data—across all channels and business processes in support of customer experience (CX) initiatives. By applying automation and intelligence to integrate and link data of all types, customer insights platforms serve as a foundation for analytics and third-party model frameworks that help organizations acquire, grow, and retain customers. 

Customer insights platforms provide deeper context that help turn customer data into customer intelligence.

Most commonly, this data foundation allows companies to do things like:

  • Create more targeted segments

  • Identify points of friction and churn

  • Predict customer behaviors and propensities

  • Identify next best action or non-action

  • Optimize campaigns and analytics

Companies invest in a customer insights platform in an effort to become a customer’s first choice, leveraging data management and analytics to harness the value from the volume, variety, and velocity of big data and the data sources available to them.

 

Components of a customer insights platform

The customer profile is the foundation of a customer insights platform. Much of the success and adoption of a customer insights platform hinges on the platform’s ability to match data from many different data sources for the best version of a customer record, and then link, enrich, and relate those records to create valuable context about customers.

Along with the profile, a customer insights platform consists of several end-to-end data management technologies, including:

Cloud, automation, and configuration-based software—including microservices, AI/machine learning and natural language processing, and low- or no-code technologies—make it faster to implement and easier to customize, manage, and use a customer insights platform.

 

Why is a customer insights platform important?

Customer insights platforms allow companies to use data to overcome a lack of understanding across the customer lifecycle and low visibility into customer demand. Companies gain advantage from deeper, richer, and more relevant insights by employing advanced models and analytics against a foundation of governed, trusted, and contextual data. They can then use these insights to feed programs and actions based on customers’ revealed needs, behaviors, and preferences—and then deliver them at the right time and in the right place, to the right customer.

 

Customer insights and customer intelligence? Data insights? Digital insights? A platform for all.

Customer insights or customer intelligence is focused on—but not limited to—the customer domain. A customer insights platform includes capabilities that bring together data and deliver insights or intelligence about customers, not only at a marketing or departmental level, but across an entire organization. This is important because—from the customer’s point of view—they interact with a company or individuals that represent a company, and not with “marketing,” or any other siloed department.

A customer insights platform builds a comprehensive and contextual customer view and includes data, relationships, analytic outcomes, and visualizations. It makes the insights available across different channels, delivering unique perspectives of customers to those who need it within the company, such as:

  • Marketing, sales, and service

  • Finance and operations

  • Data scientists and analysts

Data insights, on the other hand, is broader. It may refer to any insight created from any data. Or it may be interpreted as insights about data. In other words, it involves profiling a company’s data and leveraging metadata that helps determine the completeness, quality, accuracy, trustworthiness, composition, and use of a company’s data assets. For more about data transformation, click here.

Digital insights, similarly, address how organizations align around a common vision and strategy across key digital dimensions such as strategy, technology, data, operations, marketing, and automation.

A customer insights platform that is robust enough to meet today’s demands for great customer experience at scale and on an enterprise level combines customer intelligence, data insights, and digital insights into one solution. 

 

What are the benefits of a customer insights platform?

Improved customer experience

Customer experience has become a competitive factor for 99% of companies across B2B, B2B, and B2B2C industries. Poor customer experience—which is often a result of a lack of customer insight driven by siloed data and processes—is correlated to mismatched outreach, poorly timed and irrelevant communications, and inauthentic interactions. This friction between customers and companies frequently results in increased customer churn, low wallet share, and poor customer satisfaction. In these situations, customers will seek out and choose to do business with more customer-focused companies.

Fit-for-purpose customer insights

A customer insights platform meets the needs of B2B, B2C, and B2B2C companies. Because customer insights platforms primarily comprise core, interaction, transaction, and operational data, they can do two important things:

  • Create a full, 360-degree view of customers and their relationships across unstructured and structured data sets 

  • Offer the ability to parse out a fit-for-purpose view of customers that’s based on functional or departmental needs

In this way, a customer insights platform can narrow in on the most important information for a particular use, at a high level of confidence in the data that’s aligned to a specific business requirement. For example, it can provide marketing a perspective that’s “good enough” for its needs, while sales gets a more precise perspective of that same data to allow for highly targeted outreach.

This capability is useful when creating a segment for a campaign. You can dial up or down the confidence in the underlying data, based on the campaign’s significance or intent. However, when a company is responding to a warranty, billing, or service issue, it can dial up a higher level of certainty in the data to provide the excellent experience the customer expects. 

Flexibility

Data within a customer insights platform can be used in a variety of ways. One of the most unexpected uses is to dispel myths or reveal false assumptions. A customer insights platform could help isolate where customers drop from an online process and switch to a higher-cost channel, and why—valuable insights for business process owners. Another use is to identify the next best action—or when to take no action, if that’s more appropriate. By going beyond views of single individuals to map household or complex business relationships, a customer insights platform offers more visibility into the purchase behaviors or satisfaction levels. This helps organizations identify right offer to make and the best time to make it. 

To illustrate this, think about the relationships between web browsing activity, individuals in a household, and purchases. When mapped, these relationships can reveal which products were recently shopped by one individual and purchased by another, while also linking to a complaint or challenge discussed over a retailer’s customer service chat. The resulting insight into customer satisfaction is priceless.

A customer insights platform delivers richer views into customer behaviors and patterns for more precise and granular customer segmentation; advanced dashboarding inclusive of word clouds, heat maps, and other dials, charts, and metrics; optimization of customer analytics, data science models, and proactive predictions; and efficiency gains from having a single, accessible source of truth and eliminating hours of manually searching for, stitching together, and reconciling data.  

 

The power of a customer insights platform

A customer insights platform builds a trusted customer profile, relying on a powerful customer data foundation compiled from numerous data sources at very fine-grained detail. It then enriches the profile with derived or inferred attributes intelligently gleaned through reasoning and data synthesis of interaction and transaction data and applies new capabilities, such as AI and machine learning, to surround the profile with additional context. This creates a view of customers that’s based on all relevant data. These insights are then delivered to sales, marketing, service and support, data scientists, analysts, and other areas based on the purpose and the perspective that’s needed.

 

Customer insights platform resources

Learn more about the value of customer insights and the platforms that deliver a single, trusted view of customer data.