Even though many companies base their strategies in some way on customer intelligence (CI) data, relatively few base their actions on the actual value of CI systems, leading to millions of dollars in wasted sales, marketing, and customer support, according to a study published by BusinessWeek Research Services and Saugatuck Technology.
The study, which surveyed business and technology executives in an attempt to assess the importance, effectiveness, and optimisation of customer intelligence, suggests that customer intelligence is a 'high visibility' topic within most companies, and is important enough to be included in the responsibilities of multiple high-level executives and managers. More than 60% of the survey's respondents said that changes in CI result in changes to their company's business operations.
"Unfortunately, the impact and value of CI is not measured by a majority of firms," explained Bruce Guptill, managing director for Saugatuck Technology. "Only 41% of survey respondents said they measure the actual value or benefits of CI investments. Much of this is undoubtedly due to a lack of centralised authority for CI, the use of CI data from multiple applications and systems, and the resulting lack of coordination of data and responsibility."
According to the survey, the responsibility for CI in most enterprises is spread out to the point where its management becomes disorganised, complex, and costly. The results are a widespread lack of efficiency and the ineffective use of data for business planning and management.
"If everyone has responsibility then no one is responsible," Guptill quipped. "The effective use of CI requires a more centralised and coordinated effort than most firms have been able to achieve. The bottom line is that unless they do more to optimize the use and management of CI, most firms are throwing money away while losing market share, customer loyalty, and other opportunities."
The report suggests several steps to optimise the practical use of customer intelligence data and management, including:
- Demonstrate value: CI's value needs to be understood and demonstrated clearly in order to gain the resources and investment needed.
- Measurement: Standardised measurement of CI costs and effectiveness will provide significantly greater support for CI resources and investment expansion.
- Data management: CI's value and impact will be greatly improved, and CI costs will be reduced, by the simplification and standardisation of data types and data management.