The Future of Customer Insights in 2022

The Future of Customer Insights in 2022

Demand for insights from across the organization has increased in recent years and this trend is only going to accelerate into 2022. What are the hot customer insights trends for 2022? We sat down with Peter Harris, CEO of Bastion Insights to find out!

Peter has 25 years experience in the research & insights space with expertise across storytelling, technology-led customer intelligence and understanding consumer behaviour. He currently leads the team at Bastion Insights - a research and insights consultancy focused on improving the human experience of brands, products, and society through insight generation.

Trend #1: Telling memorable stories remains a requirement for insights success

According to Peter, Insights & Research teams have traditionally struggled to tell impactful stories that make decision makers sit up and pay attention. In his words, he says “there’s a big challenge in being able to tell a story”.

There’s two changes currently underway.

The first is around the power of visuals. Insights & research teams will be looking for new ways to visualize their insights so they’re more easily understood by executives and other departments.

The second change that’s underway is they’re looking for solutions to the scalability problem.

Surveying customers sounds like a great idea but what if you get 10X more responses than your team expected and can realistically handle?

Manual coding is a time-consuming process made worse by an ever-increasing volume of customer data (including qualitative unstructured data from VOC collection programs).

In times gone by this would have been a problem solved by cutting corners or random sampling to get a feel for what customers are saying.

These days technology solutions have made it possible to understand customer feedback at-scale. At Kapiche, we find this actually empowers insights teams to find those impactful stories in the data while also skipping over the laborious tasks.

Trend #2: Voice of customer is addictive and other departments in your organization are catching on

Peter has started to notice that the cycle time between insight and reporting is shrinking.

Driving this behavior amongst internal stakeholders is a sudden realization that insights technology has now reached a point where they don’t have to wait months for a report. Insights teams can now survey, understand and act in a matter of hours or days.

As more departments realize the value of CX, VOC and staying closer to the customer, demand for insights will continue to increase.

If you lead an insights team your first thought might be to recruit a larger team or push back against these requests for insights due to a lack of time and resources. A report from ESOMAR 2021 found “the proportion of research being conducted internally is growing”.

ESOMAR surveyed 802 professionals working in insights & research and found:

  • Demand for insights increased 12.5% between 2020 to 2021

  • 64% of surveyed teams believed demand will increase in 2022

  • 50% of US insights teams were growing in 2021

  • The share of insights projects conducted internally was 58% for US organizations

  • The media & broadcasting industry (globally) experienced the highest growth rate for in-house insights projects (up 33%)

Visibility over VOC is addictive for a reason - when done properly it gets results!

Insights teams should embrace growing demand from other business units for customer insights and find a mix of people, process and technology to remove the manual labour aspects of coding feedback.

This will empower you to deliver more insights, at a faster pace and scale, without compromising quality outputs.

Trend #3: The future is AI but that’s not as scary as it sounds

The reality is nobody wants to do grunt work anymore. Analysts want to be spending time on the high value work that they love - running deep analyses that move the needle on CX - rather than trawling through thousands of customer comments looking for a needle in the haystack.

Manual coding works against Insights teams by forcing an unnecessary amount of laborious tasks on the analysts.

Adopting AI empowers insights teams to realize their full potential by picking up the slack and doing all the laborious jobs humans no longer want to do. It doesn’t and shouldn’t replace your analysts.

In a tight labor market, particularly one affected by the great resignation trend, deploying technology that does this can be a competitive advantage. The best insights teams afterall are the ones not with the best survey platforms, AI or NLP models, but the best people.

Trend #4: Data quality matters more than ever before

As demand for insights increases, there’s a real risk that the quality of outputs could decline. While feedback analysis at-scale can be solved with next generation technology, these solutions can’t save you if you’re working with poor quality data.

As Peter told us, “The thing that worries me is not having good quality information coming through for evidence-based decision making. If you start with the wrong ingredients, you’ll end up with something you don’t like.”

There’s a few solutions here.

The first is to get a handle over your survey strategy. If your survey situation is like the wild west then this should be your top priority - customers will be less inclined to complete surveys if it’s too long, there are too many questions or they’re suffering from survey fatigue from the other half dozen surveys they’ve received from you this year.

The second solution is to decide how your data is stored, managed and accessed by your insights team. Look at how you’re managing your in-house customer data. How accessible is it? Is your data living in spreadsheet siloes across the organization, in CDPs (which is essentially a silo if you can’t get your CDPs integrated and talking with each other) or is it centralized in your own bespoke data warehouse?

Trend #5: Insights should improve, not detract from CX

Sounds obvious, right?

But it’s often the case that organizations seeking to improve the CX actually make it worse with a ton of thoughtless touchpoints and half-baked surveys that gather very little insight.

Insights rely on quality data inputs, usually resulting from surveys. If there’s no care and attention paid to how, when and why customers are being surveyed, this will do nothing other than detract from your customer’s experience with your brand.

Peter says, “there’s millions and millions of touchpoints with consumers all the time, which actually does nothing to build the brand relationship.”

Things to consider when thinking about this:

  • Ensure your survey cadence is not overwhelming and causing survey fatigue

  • Ensure surveys are short and to the point, only asking the most impactful questions to achieve your desired results

  • Ensure you are not interrupting people at inconvenient times - meet people where they are in a way that does not feel like an intrusion

  • Consider how you are surveying and again, whether it feels like a natural extension of your service or a stark interruption to someone's day

  • Prioritize using data that you already have access to over asking customers even more questions.

Trend #6: More focus will be placed on measuring ROI and impact of insights

As demand for insights increases, Insights teams will seek additional resources to do their job at-scale.

Peter says, “With this big push to pull more and more data, budgets are not matching that kind of growth, so there needs to be some kind of accountability on what outcomes are we achieving through the investment in customer insights, CX, whatever the measure is.”

Insights professionals surveyed in the ESOMAR 2021 report expected their budget to increase in 2022. The main change between 2020 and 2021 was a trend toward budgets either remaining the same or increasing followed by a decline in the number of teams expecting their budgets to decrease.

In addition, 50% of insights teams that are having their budget decreased in 2022 indicated this was due to performance reasons. Proving the value of insights is easier when you achieve the holy grail - measuring the impact whatever score you use to measure the success of CX (eg. NPS/CSAT) actually has on each coded theme.

Additional Resources

If you’d like to learn more about the ROI of insights we have a few helpful articles:

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