In a world of big data, gathering consumer insights has never been easier.

With the proverbial click of the button, we use cookies to track online customer journeys and uncover all kinds of detailed information about how our customers respond to our marketing and products.

It’s a breeze to request immediate feedback online, just as it is to track social media in order to find out what consumers are saying. And all of this invaluable insight-gathering can be (and usually is) automatically built into sales processes.

In fact, it’s so easy to gather customer data these days that the sheer volume of it is overwhelming. Just take a look at big supermarkets like Tesco, which uses its Clubcard scheme to track the minute details of millions of customer’s buying habits, likes and dislikes.

But what to do with all of this information?

For many retailers, there is a missing link between gathering the data and using it to good effect.

When applied correctly, consumer insights are extremely valuable for driving sales, but hoarding reams of data is pointless otherwise. Sensible analysis, properly acted upon, which drives product improvement and enhances the experience by addressing customer preferences is what we mean by proper application.

Use it or lose it: creating a customer-led culture

Convert all that juicy consumer data into bottom-line sales by:

  • Tailoring marketing communications.
  • Creating personalised customer experiences.
  • Uncovering problems and creating solutions to improve the offering.

Converting consumer insights into sales calls for a customer-led culture that is firmly embedded across the whole organisation. It means getting the entire business involved in consumer satisfaction, from the top down.

In order to make a real impact on profits, basing decisions on consumer feedback cannot be seen as a soft option; it needs to be analysed and acted upon by every corner of the business, from product development and sales to customer service and operations. Talk is cheap, but this is how a truly customer-driven culture is created.

Freedom to adapt

The consumer insights team or its corollary needs to be armed with a proactive remit and be endorsed at CEO level. This means connecting its work not only to the marketing team but to all areas of the business.

Speaking to Campaign magazine, the head of insight at British Gas Connected Homes highlighted the risks of failing to integrate customer experience into the company ethos. ‘If you haven’t jumped on it yet,’ he warns, ‘then I’d be surprised if you’ll have a business for very long.’