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Everything you need to know about Customer Intelligence

Are you using your customer intelligence for the greatest benefit? Use this simple guide 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, websites, and sales transactions.

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

  • Learn how the Qualtrics Customer Experience platform can supercharge your CI

Such challenges impact the data you gather on your customers and thus the insights you have into their behaviors and experiences. In essence, the main issue caused by these organizational challenges is poor customer intelligence.

What is customer intelligence?

Customer intelligence (CI) is essentially data-driven, unsolicited customer feedback. Or, in other words: customer information describing things like their activity, purchase history, and friction points, all tracked at a specific time across every customer journey touchpoint.

CI is captured by a customer intelligence platform, which gathers and analyzes customer data across:

  • All touch-points throughout the customer journey
  • All instances across time, and
  • All consumer data technology platforms

When this omni-channel customer data is combined with all other customer feedback data – including calls and surveys – the resulting insights help us understand ‘why’ customers behave the way they do. With these insights, business leaders can unveil opportunities to enhance their customers’ experiences and journeys and make better-informed business decisions.

How does customer intelligence improve my business?

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:

In addition to these benefits, CI has four other, vital benefits to your business: gaining a detailed understanding of your customer; predicting future customer behavior; positively impacting the bottom-line; and increasing customer loyalty. Let’s unpack each of these benefits in detail.

1. Gain a detailed understanding of your customer

The results tell us otherwise intangible information about existing customers – 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.

2. Predict future customer behavior

Answering these key questions about the customer gives us clear insight into their behavior, including: who are the buyers; what are they buying; where are they buying it; when are they shopping; how are they shopping; and why are they buying a product. With the answers to these questions, you can engineer strategic campaigns and make decisions aimed at target audiences who may be amenable to buying your products.

Approaching new markets and acquiring new customers is much less of a hassle if you can see where and how you gained new customers. If new customers feel the brand is relevant to their behavior and values, then expanding into new markets is more likely to happen as a result.

3. Positively 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.

4. Increase customer loyalty

Analyzing behavior and actioning based on that insight  – whether through targeted offers or improved experiences  – will help you curate a more positive relationship with your customers. That positive relationship will mean repeat purchases, more customer interactions, greater customer satisfaction, and increased customer loyalty.

How to collect customer intelligence from the customer journey

Firstly, ensure you have buy-in from leadership. 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.

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.

Investing in a customer experience solution should be your next move. You need a system powerful enough to monitor and collect data from all channels in real-time. Your solution should be able to handle customer behavior modeling, lifetime analysis, segmentation, forecasting and predictive reporting.

The right solution will also be scalable, meaning it should beable 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).

Types of customer intelligence data to collect

Consider each channel across your customer journey. Which data fields capture information? Which data-driven insights will help you know more about your customer? You should look to gather four types of data:

1. Demographic data tells you who the customer is

2. Behavioral data tells you how and where they interact with you

3. Transactional  data tells you what the customer bought

  • Sales transaction methods
  • Customer service interactions

4. Psychographic  data explores personality of the customer

  • Their customer settings preferences
  • Whether they take part in offers
  • Survey and feedback responses

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            ‘The secret to digital experience? Think like a human’

How to turn customer intelligence into actionable insights

Now that you’ve collected CI and identified interesting patterns and trends in customer relationships, now you can start to be proactive on the customer experience. With actionable insights on the customer journey, now you can increase your return on investment for CI by improving overall CX. .

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 customers 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 events or special activities are occurring locally.

It’s important to note that this is not the end of the value. As you successfully act based on CI, you’ll create more customers and data to capture so that you can further optimize the customer experience in the future. Continuously learning more from your insights and making smarter business choices based on data will therefore help your business close experience gaps and increase revenue.

Customer intelligence examples

1. Acting on customer analytics

Purchasing specific software and tools that enhance customer data and understand your customer journey points can increase your company’s ROI. How and what do these benefits look like?

Customer intelligence lets us view a customer’s real-time website activity, watch what they click on, and see which pages they visit. This tells us useful things about a customer’s intent and your business’ ease of use. What’s more, you can then build and adapt user journeys based on the way people tend to buy from or interact with your brand.

2. Better customer targeting

Tracking customer interactions will let you group customers into segments or personas, who can then be targeted for  special offers and more personalized messaging. You can further group personas based on location, interests, etc., so that you can reach out to potential customers in a way that feels more personal and individualized than the typical customer experience.

3. Fight fires with text analytics

 Text analytics is more than just finding common words, phrases, and trends. Effort, sentiment, emotion detection, empathy detection, emotional intensity and so much more can be uncovered through text analysis. With the best text analytics, organizations gain insights into their customers’ feelings about their experiences with your brand.

Part of what makes text analytics important to CI is that you can use what you learn to fix pain points and streamline the customer journey. Why does this matter? Well, feelings can translate into insights about how hard it is to do business with your brand, whether or not a customer is likely to churn, and how your brand is perceived, all leading to tangible effects on your bottom line.

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 a customer data-tracking solution that collects parts of a customer’s journey with the marketing team, or their transactions with the sales team. CRMs often have 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. Its 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 streamlines 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 goes way beyond simple customer surveys, bringing up to 27 channels and 128 data sources into one place for a complete view of what customers are thinking and feeling.

See the Customer Experience platform in action


Meena Toor

Meena is a content consultant, with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She is passionate about exploring storytelling and the customer journey in a customer-centric, digital world.

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