Data Analysis to Unlock Customer Intelligence

While sales departments have traditionally had an insatiable knowledge for data about customers, this hunger for customer intelligence is poised to expand throughout companies.

That’s according to a new survey from CRM Magazine that asked customer experience professionals to predict how the demand for customer intelligence is likely to change in the future.

A majority – 96% – expect it to increase, while 4% expect it to say the same, according to an article in the November issue of the magazine.

The article points to these trends in customer intelligence:

  • The traditional areas of differentiating from competitors such as product and price may actually decrease as executives view customer experience as an effective way to differentiate.
  • Customer information has grown on a massive scale to include real-time feedback, social media and other sources. “What’s more, new technology tools and advanced analytics help make it more practical and actionable,” the article notes.
  • The customer experience role is growing in prominence in many companies.

“All of these elements are driving a greater interest across the company for rich customer insights that can help stakeholders at all levels improve the way they serve customers and anticipate their future needs,” according to the article.

Here are some tips to help the customer experience professional meet the voracious demand for customer intelligence:

Span the data sources: Customer experience professionals note that all data sources including websites, surveys, social media, online communities, call center data, transactional data and sales feedback will all be critical sources for data analysis.

Centralize: Customer data is often far-flung, spanning a firm. Companies should build a reliable resource about customers, integrating the sources of data.

Serve intelligence up: Companies must use technology to make information accessible and relevant for users.

Lead from the front: Customer experience professionals must lead successfully, consistently reaching out to understand the needs of groups across the company, making them aware of how customer intelligence can best be used.

“Try this – pick one group or department in your company that you feel could make much better use of customer intelligence,” the article concludes. “Reach out to them, listen to their needs, and help them put customer intelligence to use. The opportunity to really make a difference has never been better.

Gleaning customer intelligence from big data is core to operations at Wal-Mart, according to a recent blog post in the Wall Street Journal.

Big data is helping the business avoid “analysis-paralysis,” according to Liz Coddington, vice president of finance and CFO of, in the article.

“You may not have perfect information, but we have enough to know our risk is only between X and Y and therefore we’re comfortable moving forward. . . . You have to be careful that you don’t get to the point that you can’t run your business because you’re waiting for data,” says Coddington.

The company recently learned via social media that cake pops were popular with consumers and moved quickly to stock them in stores. The retailer also recently changed its online shipping policy based on data analysis because the previous policy did not provide a good customer experience, the post notes.

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