12 every 2. Changing some ingrained customer insight practices.

‘How often should I talk to my customers?’   A great but surprising question. Surprising because most organisations don’t actually talk to their customers enough ..  or even at all.    

Talking to customers is not looking at the customers stats on your data dashboard. We mean actually talking and conversing with customers, asking them about what they want from your brand experience.

There is lots of stats to support how great business grow when they have a proper systems to talk to their customers.  And there are lots of stats around that tell us better experiences mean better profits.  89% of companies with great customer experiences perform better financially than their competitors[1].

So how are businesses learning about their customers?


1. The business outsources customer conversations

This is definitely better than not gathering insight at all but in this instance what is missing is connection. It’s one thing to see words written on a page or hearing someone else relay the customers story, but it’s a totally different experience when you hear it straight from the mouth of your customers. You know yourself when someone tells you a story how much more powerful it is to hear it directly from the person in the story. There’s a connection, it’s more impactful. You lose some of that if you outsource to a third party.

2. The business is acting on hunches not fact

When customers are not involved in your business planning, then there’s likely to be a great chunk of knowledge missing from the organisation about their customers. This leads to guesswork which is fraught with danger.

3. The business relies mainly on big data dashboards and statistics.

Big data dashboards provide an understanding of what customers are doing, their choices and behaviours. This is valuable information. But it doesn’t inform why customers behave the way they do. This ‘thick’ or ‘small’ data’ is critical to fully understanding customers.  Without the ‘why’, businesses are unnecessarily limiting their growth and strategic planning because they only have half the picture.

Businesses need to embrace both big and small data to truly get a handle on customer intimacy. Gerry Murray, Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC) sums this up when he says ‘Big data can capture a billion clicks that reveal how millions of customers flow through digital interactions. Small data can capture a thousand insights that reveal what they like or dislike about specific moments in the journey. By putting the two together, brands can improve existing marketing programs and discover opportunities for innovation that would otherwise be missed’.[2]

It’s not rocket science, but many businesses are missing the opportunity. A survey of 619 CX executives conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services[3] showed that only 23% understood why their customers acted the way they did. Only 15% said their organisations were effective at integrating both big and small data. Those that did invest in both saw big improvements in business results, growth and profitability. It seems like a no brainer.


So if I do want to build in thick data and customer conversations into my business, often how often should I do that?

12 every 2. That’s 12 customer conversations every 2 weeks. From there it’s easy to build a program where customer conversations are integrated into normal business practice. It becomes protocol.


How do you convince your business to work in this new way?  To change some ingrained practices? 

Have a go at a new way and feel the difference.

One of the main ways of shifting habitual behaviour is to give people an emotional benefit, so that when they do try something different, they are emotionally connected to that shift, versus it being a functional shift.

One of our BrandHook clients always outsourced their customer conversations.  Once we’d gathered customer insights and presented back to them, they would take it away, review it some more, have more meetings, and inevitably that presentation would end up sitting in a drawer. Decisions would be delayed or not made with conviction.

Then the same client had a go at Hearsay. They had the customer conversations themselves and they connected to the customers. Afterwards, their whole discussion shifted.  We weren’t presenting the findings to them, they had had the conversations themselves, and they ultimately had the answers.

This company experienced faster and better decisions because they had more clarity and passion and a connected purpose.

That is habit changing and better for business. 

[1] https://www.qualtrics.com/m/assets/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/XMI_GlobalStateOfXM-2020.pdf

[2]Research Report | Beyond Big Data: Why Small Data Integration Is the Key to CXM Success, Harvard Business Review, October 28 2019

[3] Research Report | Beyond Big Data: Why Small Data Integration Is the Key to CXM Success, Harvard Business Review, October 28 2019

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