Customer Experience

Master customer intelligence in 5 steps

Are you getting the most from your customer intelligence? Use this simple plan to turn your siloed customer data and insights into valuable actions that help grow your business and brand equity.

We all need to listen to our customers. Marketing, IT and Customer Experience (CX) teams may already do this by collecting customer data from social media, surveys, website and sales transactions.

But organization challenges – like siloed teams that can’t communicate, disjointed systems that don’t connect, or a lack of strategy support from staff – can limit how much value you get from this information.

Know your customers on a deeper level and improve your business sales growth and bottom-line with customer intelligence.

What is customer intelligence?

Customer data is information about a customer’s activity that happened at a specific time and customer journey touchpoint. It is captured by a consumer data platform (like a call center ticket system, point-of-sale system or survey software), where information is fit into platform-specific metric fields.

Customer intelligence goes one step further. It is the information that is gained from gathering and analyzing this customer data, available in one customer intelligence platform. This includes data across:

  • all touch-points end-to-end on the customer journey
  • all instances across time, and
  • all consumer data technology platforms.

When this multi-channel information is combined with a 360° view of the customer’s context or behavior patterns, the resulting insights help us understand ‘why’ customers behave in the way they do. This creates opportunities for better business decisions.

How does customer intelligence improve my business?

Customer intelligence has 3 vital benefits to your business:

  1. Gain a detailed understanding of your customer - The results tell us intangible information about your customer – their beliefs, preferences, attitudes and motivations. These views can also change over time, so a real-time and historical view of data can help you adapt fast to the changing market.

You can then target your audiences with segmented campaigns, suited to their personality and behavior. This personalization could increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

  1. Predict future customer behavior - When you can answer the core customer questions of who, what, where, when, how and why, you can start to engineer strategic customer campaigns and make decisions to target audiences that will likely buy your products and services.

If you can see where and how you gained new customers, it’s possible to approach new markets and acquire new customers. This is more likely to occur if new customers feel the brand is also relevant to their behavior and values.

  1. Make effective decisions that really impact your bottom-line - You may discover new facts about how customers use your business. This could focus your strategy on maximizing the areas that work, or changing what doesn’t.

You could also make things work smarter by optimizing operations to handle bottle-necks or problems along the customer journey. This will help reduce waste and money on sorting out problems, because you’ll be able to get off them before they arise.

The 5 steps to master customer intelligence

Here is our 5-step guide to make customer intelligence central to your strategy and business decisions. This aligns with the industry-standard ‘People, Processes and Technology’ PPT Business Insights framework, to achieve organizational efficiency.

1. Get buy-in from leadership and build a CX culture

People are the driving force behind the success of a great idea, so include your organization’s leadership right from the start of the process. As noted in John Kotter’s model for organizational change, you need to “form a powerful coalition”, who will help embed the importance of CX values and begin driving change using their influence.

Set the example by focusing on showing the benefits of good customer experience and what happens when customer intelligence is acted on. Discuss a strategy to get you from your current position to a CX culture. This usually starts off with knowing your business goals, understanding the available channels, what data you can collect and who you can work with.

Getting buy-in from leaders in every part of your business can make a huge difference to the speed of CX uptake. A well-connected and supportive set of leaders behind your vision can create amazing results.

2. Invest in customer experience technology

It’s helpful to also assess your digital expertise in-house, and if your current consumer data platforms are helping or hindering your vision. As the aim is to have all systems connected together for seamless interaction, you may need to invest in a customer intelligence platform.

The technology is a key component to set-up at the beginning. You need a system powerful enough to monitor all channels, data and customers in real-time. It needs to be able to handle customer behavior modeling, life-time analysis, segmentation, and forecasting and predictive reporting.

It is also scalable to meet your business needs as your sales and data confidence grows, and connect to the right people with alerts when customer responses turn negative (e.g. through an email trigger).

You can act with strength and purpose if your customer intelligence is viewable as a whole, easy to understand and indicative of the live market.

3. Collect data from customers

Points 3-5 focus on the processes, and these steps are repeated in a constant loop to identify, monitor and evaluate your customer intelligence.

Consider each channel across your customer journey. Which data fields capture information? Which data driven insights will help you know more about your customer?

The channels can usually provide four types of data:

  1. Demographic data tells you who the customer is
  1. Behavioral data tells you how and where they interact with you
  1. Transactional data tells you what the customer bought
  • Sales transaction methods
  • Customer service interactions
  1. Psychographic data tells you about the personality of the customer and why that could be
  • Their customer settings preferences
  • Whether they take part in offers
  • Survey and feedback responses

4. Analyze your customer data

According to Justin Schuster, vice president of enterprise products for MarketTools, marketers who measure the impact of their customer intelligence say that it not only boosts campaign-specific metrics, but also improves:

Some methods for analyzing consumer data are:

  • Investigating metric information - Metrics should be collected to help you analyze the customer data to form a complete picture of a customer’s single-view. Some can be used to forecast on available data (customer lifetime value tells you the likely value associated with each customer, based on their current value and the assumption that this will remain constant).
  • Text analysis - where conversations are taking place, or qualitative research has been conducted, text analysis finds common words, phrases and trends. This is also linked to sentiment analysis - a customer’s positive, negative or emotive word choices can tell you how a customer feels.

Read our free e-book ‘The secret to digital experience? Think like a human’ to find out about engaging customers on an emotional level.

  • Tracking on-page activity - you can view a customer’s real-time website activity, watch what they click on or where they position their pointer. This tells us the customer’s intent and ease of use.

Use this information to make assumptions that can be further monitored to see if they are correct.

5. Act on insights

When you have some patterns or trends that you think can be applied widely, be proactive and try to improve your customer experience to help increase your return on investment.

Some actions you may want to explore:

  • Segment customers by demographic, life-cycle stages or preference groups and send them targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Close the loop on negative feedback and take positive steps to prevent customer leaving. Consider Qualtrics closed-loop customer follow up software to make these actions automated for easier management.
  • Create personas of customer groups, including their intangible information (values, beliefs, attitudes and preferences) to make your customer communications smarter.
  • Prioritize your business actions according to your goals. You could set your focus on quick wins or invest in larger opportunities, and carry out activities with greater levels of success.
  • Use location data to geo-target customers where there are events or special activities occurring locally.

It’s important to note that this is not the end of the value. As you successfully action your intelligence, this creates more customers and more data to capture. As you will already have the right people (step 1) and technology (step 2) in place, repeat the processes in steps 3-5, to continuously learn more from your insights and make smarter business choices.

What is a customer intelligence platform?

Organizations may already have lots of Consumer Data Platforms (CDPs) that handle customer data. This can be useful where the information is used by a single team, and serves a simple set of requirements.

For example, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is customer data tracking software that collects parts of a customer’s journey with the marketing team, or their transactions with the sales team. It has set functionality, which cannot be easily amended, and has limited connectivity to other CDPs.

A Customer Intelligence Platform (CIP) is the next evolution from CDPs. It works across teams, focusing on connecting data from all CDPs to provide a rich, detailed view of all data. It’s real-time feedback, dashboard and reporting features make it very useful for managers and administrators alike. While a CDP serves a function to a specific team, a CIP stream-lines all CDPs and helps deliver optimized activities.

Qualtrics offers an innovative, end-to-end Customer Intelligence Platform solution: Qualtrics Customer Experience. Trusted by 11,000 brands, it allows 27 channels and 128 data sources to feed into one place for a complete view of what customers are thinking and feeling.

It uses iQ, our predictive intelligence engine, to uncover trends, patterns and key drivers of customer loyalty, so you can decide where to focus and act. And then automatically sends recommended actions to the right teams.


See the Customer Experience platform in action, in this dynamic demo video