Tim Farmer
Tim Farmer 3 May 2021

2021: Time for Insights Teams to Think Long Term

As digital becomes the primary setting for customer interactions, how can insights teams go beyond improving experiences and look to uncover what customers want in the long term?

Designing emotionally positive experiences can be difficult, particularly in our increasingly digital world.

In a physical store, when a customer is unhappy, managers can use visual or non-verbal cues, such as altering their tone of voice or facial expressions to communicate understanding and build trust with the customer in front of them. Unlike face-to-face conversations, face-to-screen conversations lack this inherent warmth and connection.

As digital becomes the primary setting for customer interactions, long-term success will require insights teams to become more deliberate in how they design and manage customer emotions on these channels.

Intent, Content, and Empathy — Without a Physical Presence

We can’t directly observe a customer’s emotional state through a screen, but we can look at their ‘digital body language’ and clues they give us in real-time — take for instance, voice and text sentiment analysis.

Using conversations that customers have with customer service representatives and chat bots, sentiment can be gleaned from their tone of voice and how they interact. What language did they use? Did they seem to be happy with the service they received?

Technology will enable this kind of data collection and analysis, and it will uncover the most important part of customer interactions — the subconscious. The subconscious feeds into each customer’s behaviour and if understood and used correctly, is a rich source of information for businesses.

It is something that exists across multiple platforms already. Customers are already frequently sharing a glimpse into their subconscious when they open up on social media and share reviews on products and services they’ve received. The most important thing a business can do is synchronise those insights across the whole network of channels and create a single source of truth.

Creating an Insights Ecosystem

Technology provides the solution to fill this gap, with sophisticated engines incorporating data from all sources. The best of these will also make use of in-built AI to democratise data collection and reporting. Crucially, such tools should be integrated into systems of action to ensure a continuous customer feedback loop.

Here we’re emphasising outsourcing the tools, not the brains. Your company no longer needs to use large chunks of budget just for researchers to write questionnaires. With today’s technology, insights that deliver real business value can be gleaned from resources already within your organisation’s grasp.

This technological outsourcing frees up teams to work on more pressing and complex tasks, instead of having to create surveys, collate the responses and report back on how happy or annoyed customers are.

There has been a fragmentation of data over the years, caused primarily by a reduction in response rates. People just don’t want to spend as much time and effort answering surveys and giving their feedback — so ‘traditional’ means of gathering insights just won’t cut it.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, to build a better relationship with customers and ensure that they return after purchasing, businesses need to make their experiences more enjoyable. Right now they are overwhelmed by choice, and won’t hesitate to search elsewhere for products and services if they aren’t happy with the experiences they’re currently having.

By taking the skills that make face-to-face conversations so engaging and applying them to digital interactions, brands will be able to emotionally connect with customers through these increasingly popular channels and turn those connections into actions in the long term. 

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