Customer Insight to improve Customer Service

Date posted:
1st October 2021
3 minutes
Customer Insight

What is Customer Insight?

In short, insight it is about having a real and deep understanding of our customers. This understanding helps deliver better customer service, and in turn, a better customer experience. It also helps us be more efficient and to deliver the right services, to the right customers at the right time.

We need a little understanding…

There is a famous quote about customer insight: ‘Empathy is the ultimate form of customer insight’ (Don Peppers). If you think about it, that quote makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  We are all customers and know what we like and don’t like about the organisations and brands we deal with; what makes us feel satisfied or dissatisfied.

This is a large part of what customer insight is about: understanding customers' feelings about the service you are delivering as an organisation or business. This type of feedback is most often captured via a survey – which can be several questions long, or just one question; indeed, sometimes it’s just asking a customer to either select a smiley face or a grumpy face! 

The value of customer surveys is not to tell an organisation how good they are; the value is in helping them understand how they can get even better.  As Bill Gates said: “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”

Feedback in Fundamental

The best type of customer insight from feedback is when the customer has an opportunity to explain – in data or comments - why they are satisfied or dissatisfied; when they can explain in words why they feel this way.

So, if you ever thought customer surveys are a tick-box exercise, they’re not (or they’re certainly not supposed to be!). Every time we complete a survey, some analyst at some point will delve into that data and help the organisation understand much more about the services they offer.  All organisations want their customers to stay customers, to keep on using their services. Satisfied customers are far more likely to remain customers. Plus, quite often the things that make customers dissatisfied are also bad and inefficient for the business too. Think of when something isn’t right first time, or you need to chase an organisation about something they haven’t done or to complain. Your query needs to be dealt with by someone, investigated and resolved. All that takes time and money – so it’s fair to say understanding what make customers satisfied is a ‘win-win’ for the business and the customer!

Other forms of insight are Customer Effort – how easy is it for customers to deal / transact with the organisation, and ‘Net Promoter Score’ - that question that asks us how likely we are to recommend an organisation to your family or friends. The assumption here is that if you would recommend, you must be happy with the organisation.

Differences and Behaviour

The better we understand our customers, the better we can deliver for them.

Understanding who customers are, recognising that not all customers are the same and they have different needs helps personalise the offering.  A customer of sixty may want something very different than a customer of twenty; or a customer who is single may have very different needs than a single parent with two children. 

Understanding what customers do is all about looking at what services they use; how often they make contact; what channels they use; if they use online services and more. 

Turning Insight into Action

There’s no point generating insight, asking customers what they want, and trying to understand their behaviour; if all that knowledge sits locked away in systems and spreadsheets and doesn’t translate into action.

Following a deep dive insight programme ‘Customeyes’– in which we looked at the way we are delivering services through the eyes of our customers – we have used this insight to make some key changes in the organisation.

Take our new Neighbourhoods structure – a more visible presence, building trust in our estates and neighbourhoods, or our new customer reception – providing a more convenient and personal way for customers to deal with us.  Or, our improved digital services and telephony system.  All areas where customer insight told us we could improve, and we have.

Our monthly customer satisfaction surveys give us a rich understanding of what we’re doing well and where we could improve.  We won’t stop using insight to listen and improve our customer service.  

The journey is only just beginning!

Written by

John Perrian

John leads on Customer Insight to improve customer satisfaction and inform the design of more efficient services to improve customer experience.

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