In my previous post titled Wall Street Loves Great Product Design, I explored the link between product design and financial performance.A growing portion of our client work now centers around customer experience and engagement, and we expect this trend to continue to grow in 2016.
A new study underscores and validates our findings and premise. 74% of companies that over-perform on their revenue growth expectations create customer experience based on data-driven insights, according to preliminary findings from Insights 2020, a global marketing leadership initiative. The research analyzed over-performing and underperforming companies with respect to how they operate and what over-performing companies do differently.
What, then, are the implications to our clients? What are the implications for young startups designing their business culture to set themselves up to win?
We identity the following critical success factors:
- Customer analytics in the boardroom. A focus on customer analytics at the top is a critical success factor. Traditionally, these data have been relegated to secondary status in the market research department. While financial data have been the focus of data that makes it to the executive boardroom, the inclusion of customer analytics is a key factor for those companies that outperform their revenue expectations and the link between the two has never been made more clear than in the study cited above.
- Creating a customer intelligent enterprise. A focus on data-driven customer experience can only come about if it is embedded in the company culture and is part of its DNA. This is, of course, easier for startups creating their culture from the ground up than established companies. Nevertheless, a change in culture is both possible and essential, and many companies have successfully made the transition. Our Becoming a Customer Intelligent Enterprise available here contains a framework and some great examples.
- Marketing is not a cost center. Peter Drucker put it best when he said: “Marketing and innovation are the prime functions of a business-everything else is overhead”. Designing the optimal customer experience should be a prime marketing function with attention paid to every minute detail of how the customer interacts with and experiences the product, the company and all its venues, outlets, channels, and other intermediaries.
- Expand your customer insights horizon. We have covered this in our previous posts where we introduced the Customer Intelligence Triangle, and I will be happy to send you the slide deck from my presentation at the Industrial Design Society of America conference in San Jose last year, but briefly, three elements comprise the full data set and need to be triangulated with each other to provide a complete view of the customer; the journey that led them to you and where the journey will take them next-behavioral data (including transactional data from their all their interactions with you enhanced with appropriate demographic and lifestyle overlays), social data and primary data.
- Practice customer anthropology. Lastly, while so much of what we have been discussing is quantitative in nature, companies often make the mistake of not focusing on the qualitative aspects of what drives customer motivations, behaviors and engagement. Qualitative input, in our view, is the most often overlooked aspect of customer intelligence, yet these data are vital in comprehending the “why” behind the quantitatively observed behaviors and for “futurescaping”, understanding where customers want to go next, and building anticipatory intelligence. The customer experience design practitioner of today needs to be a good anthropologist. First-hand knowledge of what drives their customers based on observation needs to not only be developed (Jane Goodall-like), but needs to accompany the quantitative customer analytics into the board room.
Alan Nazarelli is President and CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group, a global market research and strategy development firm focused on the needs of technology companies.