customer insight leader
August 7, 2015

Out and about with Customer Insight Leaders like you

By Paul Laughlin

What are others doing?

Am I the only one struggling with this problem?

Do they know something I don’t?

These are the kind of questions & doubts that can plague today’s leaders. Perhaps especially those working in a less widely understood area like Customer Insight. So, let’s peer behind the curtain and see what some other leaders say…

Meeting different Customer Insight leaders is always a great opportunity to ground myself and the content provided on this site. Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with such leaders from a major online retailer, a major UK insurer and major marketing & analytics agency. Here is a short summary of the ideas and concerns I took away from those conversations:

Customer Insight Leader 1 (major online retailer):

It was impressive to hear how much insight & analytics work is happening at this retailer, although she does have an enviable amount of data to work with. There is also an understanding, at least at a Group level, as to the benefits of combining research & analytics within one team. So, some of the holistic customer insight benefits are realised, although not all.

A couple of challenges identified by this leader are:

  • Implementing suitable segmentations across so many territories & silo businesses. Plus supporting the number of internal events needed to achieve engagement with latest insights.
  • Justifying the financial return from insight headcount in order to secure more. On that topic we spoke about the benefits of having Database Marketing (targeted data for inbound & outbound marketing) within Customer Insight team as well. Such a team can more easily demonstrate short-term value generation to justify the longer-term work of more strategic analysis & research.

Customer Insight Leader 2 (major UK insurer):

Major improvements have been achieved in the insight capability of this insurer. With recruitment & setting the bar at a high enough level, he has significantly improved both the analytics & research capability. It takes time and there are still major data gaps, compared to the data needed for full behavioural & predictive analytics, but progress has been made.

Where this leader is challenged is:

  • Navigating the amount of organisational change at the moment. Like many FS firms, the frequency of reorganisations has quickened. This always provides the challenge to educate/influence new leaders, to help them see the benefits of investing in Insight.
  • How to approach Customer Insight Strategy development. Without other internal expertise, he is left with a choice between relying on his own (solely client-side FS) experience or potentially expensive consultancy (with few agencies having real depth of customer insight leadership experience either). Mentoring may help.

Customer Insight Leader 3 (major research/analytics agency):

With a mixture of experience on client and agency sides, this leader also has a strong academic grounding in both analytics and business. That has enabled him to support this agency in growing a very capable analytics team. It is also good to see that he is so actively engaged with local Chartered Institute of Marketing. Akin to my own work with the Institute of Direct & Digital Marketing, it’s important for insight leaders to help these professional bodies educate the next generation of marketers in making effective use of Customer Insight.

Where this leader is more challenged is:

  • Local engagement of “Data Science” community. Despite his best efforts and the reality that the number of analysts working on customer insight in South Wales is still relatively small, events to build a local community have struggled. This is in sharp contrast to the great progress being made in Scotland via MBN. We agreed to join forces to help engender a local Data Science hub here in Wales.
  • The related challenge of recruiting suitably capable graduates or experienced analysts could be helped by greater local engagement. Too few recruitment agencies understand the skills required & too few university courses teach the full range of skills that will actually be required by analysts working within a commercial team. Once again there is a need for CI leaders to engage with local universities.

Do those challenges ring true with you? If not, what are yours?

Customer Insight Leader will be reflecting on these topics of interest and bringing you content that hopefully helps with those challenges & helps you see more of the options and resources available. Meanwhile Laughlin Consultancy is also expanding its services to help.

Please do share your key challenges, so Insight Leaders like you can see what others are facing and perhaps share more of their learning along the way.