Familiarity with a customer – understanding their needs, wants and desires – can provide massive opportunities to an organization as it enables them to meet current or potential consumer demands – even potentially creating demand where the customer didn’t know it existed.
To get this familiarity, customer data has to be captured, analyzed and integrated into the processes of an organization. This is no longer the relatively simple task of tapping into data generated by the customer – e.g. by utilizing sales data – as customer information is no longer just generated from internal sources. Data may now come from a wide variety of sources ranging from social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to feedback written on third party websites. The ability to identify and incorporate useful customer information in all its facets is therefore increasingly critical to successful organizations.
A number of organizations such as Gatorade and Dell are implementing specialized monitoring teams to collate feedback from customers (actual or potential) from social media sources in order to get a better understanding of their customers and the market place.
There is also a marked shift in the use of data from being functional to strategic. Instead of using internal data repositories for order fulfillment or direct marketing purposes, organizations have the opportunity, if they are adaptable to the new data landscape, to make use of these reams of externally generated data to help them to develop their organization’s strategic direction. Forrester recently published an interesting article – “Customer Intelligence Trends To Watch In 2011” – that identifies key areas organizations and Customer Intelligence professionals should zone in on to maximize the benefits they can achieve from customer data to achieve and support their strategic goals.