Overview of a Customer Analytics Initiative

By Jeff Sauro

Launching a customer analytics initiative can be confusing on where to start and which method to use when. The basic framework is to define what you want to do, find the right ways to measure it, do something about the measures, and put processes in place to continue using customer analytics to make better business decisions.

Before you start on your initiative, keep these four things in mind:

  • Access to the right data: It’s hard to increase the frequency of customer purchases, conversions, or attitudes if you don’t know what customers are purchasing, when they are purchasing it, or what they are thinking. Be sure you know that the data you need exists, or that you’ll be able to collect and analyze it.

  • Customer level data: To do the most with customer analytics, you’ll want to gather data for each customer, not aggregated data at product or company levels.

    Because customer analytics is about understanding the customer from past data to predict future data, you need to identify transactions, revenue, and survey data for each customer. You can then roll this lower level customer data up to product or company level summaries as needed.

  • Analytics that focus on the customer: The “right” analytics depend on the method. But one thing that all good customer analytics have in common is that they are meaningful to the customer. Just like airlines should care more about on-time arrivals than on-time departures, your analytics should be felt by customers at all phases of their journey.

    If you want to improve the customer support experience, customer satisfaction with the call outcome is a better metric than the number of calls answered in an hour. The latter is an example of company centric and the former is customer centric.

  • Getting buy-in: Planning, collecting, and analyzing data is only good if something is going to be done about the insights.

    All too often, organizations spend a lot on research and customer measurement projects but the results stop at the executive presentation meeting. Unfortunately, insights aren’t acted upon because the people who can change the product, price, or experience aren’t involved with the data collection and planning.

    They are naturally resistant to outsiders telling them what to do. This can happen with both internally and externally collected data. Get buy-in from the people you need to implement your insights and minimize the “not invented here” attitude.

    Customer analytics should be shared with not only executives, but also with product development, sales, and support staffers. As part of the planning and getting buy-in, be sure the analytics will cross customer touchpoints and be accessible across the organization.

Not all customer analytics initiatives lend themselves well to the more systematic methodology included here. So don’t try to force extra steps or complexity just to meet this framework.

A lot of creative thinking goes into making a plan. Don’t feel like you need to fit every project into this process. That’s especially the case if your goals and methods are narrow in scope.