An Introduction to Customer Intelligence

At its simplest level, customer intelligence is the process of gathering more information about customers and their preferences and behaviours. Customer intelligence isn’t an academic exercise but a useful gathering of data that helps a business better serve their customers. Frankly, it generates more profits from customers.

One of the key characteristics of customer intelligence is that it processes data from a variety of sources and formats. Some of this will be known data about the customers themselves. This may be so-called ‘inferred data’ – referring to geographic location and the demographics of these regions – or ‘supplied data’ – harvested from customer surveys, loyalty schemes or social media profiles.

Other customer intelligence data is procured from customer activity. While this is often transaction data, it might also be additional contact a business has with customers. For example, known probabilities of complaint levels from a certain customer base will ensure that sudden increases in complaints can be easily tracked. There’s no need to rely solely on the raw data set.

Customer intelligence is intertwined with the concept of a ‘single customer view’. This term doesn’t refer to an individual customer’s idea, but the process of amalgamating all the data a company has on its customer base. It solves the common problem of companies not cross-referencing their different data sources.

For example, without a single customer view, one department of the company might see that customers have bought a new product in large quantities and decide to reorder stock, without noticing the product had sparked a large number of complaints from that customer base.

The real beauty of comprehensive customer intelligence is that the data can be sliced and diced as needed. When properly interpreted, the same data could pinpoint a need to improve marketing to young women; that stores in retail parks are more profitable than city centres; and that customers are more likely to request refunds on deluxe widgets, despite their chances of breakage being the same as value widgets.