By Chris Lee
How organisations can access insights from customers to guide development of their own product or service is essential best practice in modern business. Accessibility to data has made it easier than ever to listen to target audience concerns to help guide business decisions.
It was in this backdrop that four key digital marketers from leading brands met at Brand Republic’s streamed debate Big Questions Live in London, and NMK’s Chris Lee was in the auditorium. The four panellists from IBM, E.ON, LEGO and Lebara Group all face unique challenges when providing customer service and listening to audiences online.
Insights must lead business transformation
One key theme to emerge was that interpreting customer data is absolutely core to driving true business transformation and benefits for both the brand and the customer. While data mining is all very well, being able to demonstrate ‘real life’ customer feedback can really drive business change, according to E.ON’s Head of Digital, Pardeep Duggal. She told delegates that a simple act such as showing customer comments on the company Facebook page to the board can help generate an emotional response from core decision makers in the business.
Lebara’s Director of Online and Data Analytics, Martyn Jobber, agreed, stating that listening to audiences is key.
“We have eyes and ears for a reason,” he said. “We have a massive opportunity to leverage [customer] data and we don’t take advantage of this.”
Jobber added that the conversation is happening whether or not organisations like it or not. They therefore have two choices; to get involved, or to pretend the conversation is not happening.
“The latter is not a good place to be,” he said.
LEGO’s VP of Marketing and Customer Experiences, Conny Kalcher, continued the data-led argument.
“If you don’t know who you’re creating products for, your chances of success are low,” she said.
LEGO has famously failed in the past, most notably with the online backlash to its girl-targeted LEGO Friends line in 2012, but Kalcher said the brand had learned from those failures, and engaged with influencers and customers. The company is on a high currently with the launch of The LEGO Movie.
A long way to go
For all the talk about using customer data to lead development and customer service, Lebara’s Jobber does not believe organisations on the whole are anywhere near fully ready to make the most of customer data and influence
“We’ve described where brands would like to be but the reality is they’re still in a shift,” he told delegates, which is why Jobber believes personalisation is going to be core to marketing now and in the future.
E.ON’s Duggal concluded that customer approaches and brand story telling can be individualised through the proper use of data to make them more relevant and appealing to target audiences.
“Just because you have customers doesn’t mean you have an audience,” she warned.