7 steps for taking action on your customer insights

Note: This article was first published by Quirk's Media on September 22, 2016

We’ve all heard the customer experience motto: customer-centric companies that listen to their customers and act on that feedback are more successful and competitive than those that don’t.

Makes sense… and sounds easy enough. What could be more straightforward than simply listening to your customers and doing what they say? And honestly, what company wouldn’t do that?

However, this advice is much easier said than done. While 74% of companies say they want their business decisions to be data-driven, only 29% think that they’re successful at connecting the insights they collect to concrete actions. (Perhaps the biggest question we have about this statistic is why only 74% want data to drive their decisions.)

So, what steps should you take to connect your customer insights to concrete business initiatives?

1 ) Set clear business objectives from the beginning.

The process of connecting insights to action starts earlier than you might think. Before you begin collecting or even analyzing data, it’s helpful to identify what business problem you’re trying to solve. It could be general (e.g. increasing revenue, gaining new clients, preventing existing customers from leaving, etc.) or specific (resolving a specific issue with escalations in your call center).

2 ) Based on these objectives, pinpoint what type and sources of data you will need.

Knowing this will help direct you so you know what data to look at or collect, rather than drowning in vast amounts of data. Chances are, you’ll end up with a combination of several data sources or types – for example, quantitative data to easily summarize trends, and qualitative data like verbatims to make that trend seem immediate and “real.” Once you’ve collected your awesome, relevant insights….

3 ) Craft a story around the data.

What’s the problem you and/or your customers are facing, and how will resolving this problem benefit both you and them? Share this with your stakeholders as a story, rather than a series of graphs and pie charts, to spark interest and make your stakeholders feel connected to your customers and the problem they’re facing. Yes, a narrative-focused presentation can be hard to create, but it’s crucial to do this in order to make the insights feel real to your audience. Use verbatims, photos, or even videos to create that sense of immediacy.

4 ) Communicate clear recommendations and next steps for you and your stakeholders to act upon.

It’s all too common for research teams to deliver a great presentation that’s well received, only for it to go no further than the conference room because there were no “next steps” tied to the insights.

5 ) Determine how you will measure success.

Without a way of measuring performance, how will you know whether your changes are actually helping? Examples of such metrics could be higher NPS scores, fewer escalations in your call center, or lower churn. Just make sure that the metric you use is representative of the business problem you’re trying to solve.

6 ) Get buy-in from at least one executive in your company.

Again, easier said than done – but if you present your insights, the business problem you’re solving, and the potential benefit to the company in a compelling way, the higher your chances will be of winning over an executive who can help you secure the resources you’ll need to take action on your data.

7 ) Measure, measure, measure!

Continue to collect feedback and data from your customers and to calculate the impact your actions have had. Are you moving the needle, or do you need to try another approach? Continue to test and optimize until you’ve found the solution that works for your company.

While putting insights into action isn’t the easiest thing to do, following these steps will make the process easier and ultimately more successful.