Is the current model for understanding customers broken? Is the level of authenticity, immediacy and continuity needed today outside the scope of these old tools and models designed for a more static, impotent approach to customer insight?
The customer is not in charge, this idea has been turned on its head. Every person still relies on companies and organizations to design and offer the services they depend upon for consumption and employment (1). But customers are increasingly out-moving companies due to their emerging behavioral patterns, goals and willingness to pay. Insights companies are unable to tap into because they are using the wrong models and tools to understand their customers.
Additionally customer insight tools are to slow, way to slow. According to Chris Fussell, Managing Partner and the Chief Growth Officer at McChrystal Group (2), the problem set of an organization changes every seven days. This means that in addition to being authentic, relevant and immediate, customer insight has to be continuous.
The customer insight industry is based on tools and processes that worked when customer insight was a tax leadership had to pay in order to argue they were doing the right thing. When market share and not customer value was precursor for success and when customer preference or behaviors didn’t change.
But today companies need insight to make decisions that challenge their assumptions, their core technology and core business models (3). Insight that challenge their customers own perception of what they want. And in a format and through a system that distributes this knowledge to any employee in the company empowering every talent and team to make their own decisions in their interactions with the customer.
The solution is at our doorstep. We are interacting with customers every day, through our products, services or environments. But, to a large extent these have been designed to service the customer (better) – not to learn from them.
Future products, services and environments have to be designed with the learning layer implemented – interfaces tailored to give the company knowledge of the customers behaviors and choices, detailed insight into which different effects provide which customer results. Data that is collected subconsciously and anonymously but feeds back a pattern to the company that puts enlightenment and vision into the decision making process. And that has the authenticity, power and clarity to weight customer insight properly against technology and business.
Customer insight doesn’t stop at producing reports and presentations. It has to be an integrated system feeding the insight, data and discussion in the company. Enabling anyone on any team to harness, understand and make immediate decision without loosing every advantage by having to request an decision from the slow detached linear hierarchy.
Whenever a customer touches a company it is an opportunity. We have to start designing insight processes to learn about the customer in every interaction with them, not surveil a handful of them late at night in a round table discussion with strangers, or counting answers from their unengaged feedback in an online form.
Customer insight needs to be immediate, real-time and continuous – and fed back to the whole company in a system of action.
(1). Shosana Zuboff on the changing content of capitalism, http://www.180360720.no/?p=5112
(2) Chris Fussell on the rules of engagement in a complex world, https://vimeo.com/153016519
(3) Gary Hamel at the Drucker Conference, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYmczFLU-eA