Elevating The CI Role Within The Organization

I've had two reports go live in the past week or so which, although we worked on them separately, are in some ways related. First, we argue that Customer Intelligence needs to get out of the weeds to demonstrate value. CI professionals seek to fill a strategic function at their organizations, but many are stuck grappling with the basics -- integrating data, struggling to evolve beyond direct marketing channels, and neglecting inbound marketing.

Today, Tamara Barber and I launched two reports on which we collaborated to understand the intersection and interplay between market insights and CI. We found that, for Customer Intelligence professionals, collaborating with market insights will help to elevate the CI role and that, collectively, they can bring the organization closer to becoming an intelligent enterprise.

This isn't something for every company, and it is something that will require work, but we show that firms can create competitive advantage if they invest the time and resources to build a shared CI and MI culture, align processes, integrate the relevant data, rationalize technology decisions, liaise collectively and directly with business functions, and adopt shared metrics.

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Are You Prepared For The Intelligent Enterprise?

Back in December, I announced that I was kicking off a big report on the future of the market research function. Well, a funny thing happened when this announcement went out — I got a lot of feedback from our clients, from our blog readers, and from my peers here at Forrester. From people saying that the post was sensational or that it was old news — or that it was right on — one overarching thought came through loud and clear. Market insights (MI) professionals aren’t the only ones dealing with data overload and the need to pivot their role in the digital age. But I argue that they are unique from most other roles within the marketing organization since the MI function is specifically tasked with using the proper data and methods to gain an understanding of the customer in a way that drives business decisions. You know who else within your organization is tasked with this? The customer intelligence (CI) team. These two roles may use data that’s gathered differently — i.e., passively collected transactional and behavioral data versus proactively collected market research data — but the success of both of these roles hinges on delivering relevant insights and intelligence that influence the way their companies do business.

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Got Mobile Measurement?

Last week we published a new report titled Mobile Measurement Is A Customer Intelligence Imperative. I’ve been getting more questions recently from Forrester clients about measuring mobile browsing and applications, so it was definitely time to look seriously into the topic. As an added bonus, this report also gave me the opportunity to work with two of Forrester’s mobile consumer strategy rock stars: Julie Ask and Thomas Husson; if you are interested in mobile, I strongly recommend that you follow their work.

The topic of mobile measurement has become increasingly frequent in digital analytics circles, and it’s not hard to see why:

  • Consumer adoption of mobile is on the rise globally.
  • Smartphones and other devices such as tablets are improving user experiences with advances in usability and functionality to become hubs for productivity, communications, and entertainment.
  • Improved infrastructure — carrier networks and widespread WiFi availability — supports data-intensive mobile browsing and application interactions.
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Stop Using NPS (Net Promoter Score) But Please Save The Question!

(Note: Due to concerns that the strong language of my original blog would overshadow the message, I have rewritten the first paragraph. The goal of this blog is to stimulate conversation – admittedly, through confrontation – in order to determine what correlation NPS really has and how to best use it, or not!)

As the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) analyst in the Market Insights Team, I get a lot of questions about Net Promoter Score (NPS). As the “ultimate question,” NPS is being positioned as a cure to all business ills and a way to understand everything you need to know about your customers . . . with just one question. Most market insights professionals struggle with NPS as it goes against our training to accept data correlations which have not been proven. Presenting actionable insights tied to NPS when correlation has not been proven? It feels like selling snake oil and is likely one of the drivers for the view that “researchers hate this metric.”

Has NPS — like Britney Spears’ singing — been overhyped?

My professional colleagues — including Timothy L. Keiningham, Bruce Cooil, Tor Wallin Andreassen and Lerzan Aksoy (A Longitudinal Examination of Net Promoter and Firm Revenue Growth) and Jeffrey Henning (Net Promoter Score [NPS] Criticisms and Best Practices) — have already beautifully, and very analytically, dissected and disproven NPS. They are not alone in their views or criticisms. So, why do we still use NPS when there is no clear statistical conclusions as to its effectiveness?!

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Social Data Meets Customer Data

As much as I believe in the power of social media data, I've always stood by the fact that if you just monitor social media, you'll only learn about social media. If you want to learn about your customers, you'll have to look at them across all of their varied communication channels.

With this concept in mind, today NM Incite and Clarabridge announced they are joining forces — and data — through an integration partnership. The strategic alliance gives customers the ability to feed NM Incite's social data through Clarabridge's text analytics platform, run sentiment analysis, and combine it with other voice of the customer (VoC) data. This partnership signifies two important areas for Customer Intelligence professionals:

  • Successful VoC programs require access to social media. Social media is important in the customer feedback space, but it's not the silver bullet. It is a series of channels to monitor consumer discussion and gain customer insight — but it's just one set of many areas to learn about customers. A complete picture of a customer comes from any of the fragmented ways they communicate — including surveys, chat transcripts, call logs, and more. Just yesterday my colleague Andrew McInnes — our resident VoC expert — published research on the importance of listening to social media as part of the customer feedback process. Check out Andrew's blog for more VoC coverage.
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Epsilon's Data Breach: A Wake Up Call For The Entire CI Industry

On April 1, 2011, Epsilon announced that it had detected an unauthorized entry into its email system, and that, as a result, a subset of its email clients’ customer data was exposed to an external party. The company indicates that the information was limited to email addresses and/or customer names only. The company is also limited in the information that it can share due to an ongoing investigation.

Epsilon plays in the “permission email” game — it is a legitimate player and certainly not a spammer. It has big and significant email customers — this weekend, I received emails from Disney, Best Buy, and Brookstone, and I’ve read about other notifications from Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, and Kroger. On the one hand, some of the press headlines would lead to a big shoulder shrug — the fact that a spammer might now have my name as well as my email address really doesn’t raise that much concern for me.

But I like to think I’m relatively tech savvy. What about others that might receive an email — addressed correctly apparently from a marketer that they trust that asks for more information or asks for them to take specific action? The emails that I’ve seen from the companies above have been well written and designed to offset some of that concern.

My bigger question is the long-term impact for marketers and service providers. Specifically:

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Market Insights Professionals: What Are You Worth?

First off, this is not a personal question. It’s business. In fact, it’s the most important question in business — and executives are asking it every day.

How can you quantify your contribution to the business? And do you even want to spend your precious time on this? Based on Forrester’s research, the answer is pretty clear: yes. Within the next 3 years, more than half of market insights professionals expect to have to quantify their ROI to the business. Executives are pushing marketing to show its ROI and will soon put pressure on market insights. Are you ready?

Market insights professionals tend to see it as difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the value and ROI of their organization. How do you quantify the impact of an intangible service that is not sold? In researching the answer, I found a couple of smart approaches, like market insights soliciting bids on a project — which they intend to do internally — to determine the fair market value (FMV) of its service. I also found some questionable approaches, like calculating the theoretical opportunity cost of not doing research.

When looking at business impact, there are typically three types of measurements of success: 1) hard metrics, which have known links to revenue and/or profit gain; 2) soft metrics, which have known links to business improvement but unclear links to actual revenue and/or profit gain; and 3) the “halo effect”, a non-quantifiable gain that doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate customer action but can help drive business results incrementally and over the long run:


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