What is Customer Insights and Analytics? The Complete CX Network guide

a guide to customer insight and analytics

This multi-faceted world of consumers is filled with high expectations of customer care, inspired by ever-advancing technology. Businesses are forced to consistently deliver personalised attention and care to their customers, whilst respecting privacy regulations.

See also: 5 Steps to improve customer service by making it personal

The various platforms that exist in today’s marketplace, from social media to phone calls, live in a complex ecosystem. Entirely new sets of data are emerging, which are connected to others in different languages, with objectives and audiences.

This intricate network creates issues that must be rapidly addressed by highly skilled professionals who not only understand its complexities but are able to support the stories taking place within it. 

This tsunami of data from various sources, until recently, did nothing more than cause institutional indigestion. Now cheap technologies, digital aids and cloud computing enables data to be processed through algorithms once impossible and prohibitively expensive; “meaning [that] huge amounts of data can cheaply and easily be analysed and insights can be algorithmically teased out without a person having to read through books of tables to find the insight.” David Boyle, EVP Insight at BBC Worldwide.

A few innovators are paving the way by learning how to leverage these opportunities and create coherent, goal-focused narratives to propel their businesses to the next level.

Tracking customer feedback and satisfaction

Customer insights and analytics focuses on understanding customers by studying behavioural patterns and connecting all their interactions with you. You must gauge customer feedback and insights from multiple touch points to optimise processes.

The customer service industry has shifted from voice-only call centre set-ups to multi-channel contact centres which provide points of engagement like web chat, social media, emails, self-service, etc. This climate allows customers to feel in control and empowers them to reach out to businesses on their own terms.

A customer might first email their enquiry or complaint but then move onto social media for convenience, or because they feel they will receive a swifter response through that channel. As a result of this interlinked approach to contact channels and the right tracking, there will be fewer requirements for customers to provide personal details or background information of prior interactions. The customer service agent is expected to know the interaction history and can provide a quicker and more informed service. This will not only speed up processes and free up the agent’s time to help more people, but it will also result in a much happier customer… Using all this information in the right way can lead to a more memorable customer service, increased satisfaction levels and, ultimately, better retention.

Omni-channel expectations from customers have forced businesses to improve back-end processes so the customer can receive a seamless, consistent experience between different contact points. The amount of channels available can lead to fragmented communications if organisations fail to have the ID recognition needed to provide a seamless experience for a customer when they decide to switch channels.  An integrated 360-degree customer view is now becoming the standard many businesses are striving towards.

The new demands on insight professionals

With all this information coming in from all angles, insight professionals need the skillset to handle, interpret and disseminate the meaning of all this data in a coherent, clear manner whilst staying aligned to businesses’ goals. Caroline Wells the Head of Customer Experience and Insight at the Financial Ombudsman Service said: “You need people who have emotional intelligence, who are able to take a lot of information and turn it into a story that colleagues in different departments can resonate with. They need to understand it, appreciate it, feel empathy towards it, and then be driven to do something about it. It is no good producing something, throwing it in the air and hope people catch it and know what to do with it. Sometimes you need a team of people that not only can identify and assimilate the information, and break it down and present, but they should also be able to guide colleagues and show what they should do differently.”

Richard Tate, Head of Digital Insight, EE concedes this by saying; “interpreting the data is the easy part, but telling the story is the thing you have to crack. It starts with the message – be really clear about what action the insight should drive, understand who your audience is and tailor the message for that audience. Always be clear in your mind what outcome you are looking for.”

“Data teams tend to focus, sometimes, too much on building complex algorithms and solutions that can take a long time. We prefer to start small and to ensure that our solutions work end to end. Once we have tested that the solution works and that it is creating value, we then focus on improving it iteratively” says Juan F. Gorricho, Chief Data & Analytics Officer for The Walt Disney Company.

Customer data and analytics

The first port-of-call for many organisations is to focus on external data, mainly through surveys post interaction. Surveys can be paramount to gaining precious insight into understanding how your customer service team is performing. Most importantly, customers feel listened to and in the case of negative interaction, it is an opportunity for the customer to vent frustrations before heading to social media. However, in this society of continuous bombardment, survey fatigue supersedes; “The implications of survey fatigue are that people are not giving their whole selves when they’re completing surveys anymore. You’re not getting a true representation of how customers are really feeling, because they’re bored of the whole process” says Caroline Wells.

Listening to the voice of the customer (VOC) through a single channel no longer suffices. New technologies such as text and speech analytical tools that capture VOC real-time, sensing happy or angry tones is one step.

Different tools for measuring data

Analytical tools on digital platforms are also important for added context. For instance comments made about a brand on social media provide rich insight. Some individuals even expect businesses to see and action feedback expressed here. David Boyle, EVP Insight of BBC Worldwide, look to an organisation called ‘Affinio’ who specialise in teasing insight out of Twitter’s network data. “I’m the biggest advocate of it thanks to massive computing power and the data science algorithms” he continues to explain that traditional market research is now secondary in importance now. “Another organisation we partner with is Parrot Analytics. They scrape the internet for references, Wikipedia pages and Tweets about TV-shows.”

Richard Tate, Head of Digital Insight at EE confirms using Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target to gain access to insight across online channels and they use Adobe Data Workbench for merging offline data with online data; “We spend time ensuring we’re gathering the right data and then making sure it’s high quality.”

Juan F. Gorricho (The Walt Disney Company), takes a more rounded approach to gathering customer insights and analysing the data; “We gather data in several different ways. Qualitatively, we rely heavily on touch point and experience surveys, as well as focus groups. We conduct traditional surveys after our members have had interactions with us through digital and non-digital channels. These give us insights into the experience within a touch point. We also conduct more comprehensive, experience focused surveys that gives an idea of the satisfaction with the overall experience our members have at Partners. Additionally, we conduct focus groups regularly to gather feedback first hand from our members.”

“Quantitatively, we have started collecting multiple data points in our business processes that allow us to understand the performance of the business processes. As mentioned earlier, this includes transactional data as well as non-transactional data about what our members experience is through the channels…

He adds: “We are also looking at piloting transcribing voice calls and performing text analytics on the transcription in order to use the data to determine member sentiment. System based strategies such as these allow us to gather more data about member experience in a non-intrusive way.”

Data breaches, GDPR & Privacy

Trust equals loyalty, right? Whilst capturing customer data is imperative to creating personalised customer experiences, there very much is a fine line between utilising this to improve your services and outright intrusion. To make sure you’re not crossing this line, be honest and forthcoming with your customers about what information you capture from them, and what you’re using it for. When they realise there is a clear benefit and their insights are stored anonymously, they’re much more inclined to agree - you’re building trust and in the long term - loyalty.

The Future of Customer Insight, Data & Analytics

CX is now a hot topic in every boardroom and is expected to continue to be a priority with new initiatives in every client based organisation. “CX is the new battlefield as companies need to win and retain customers. Then why would we treat prospects and customers differently? Prospects are our future customers. If we’ve learned something from what the customer has told us and where they are in the customer journey, we need to leverage that information as they continue the journey with us.” This method allows an organisation to remain one-step ahead, use these insights to improve approaches with prospects and meet expectations before they are even communicated.

Following this, Damien Bourgeois from AXA Belgium emphasises being ahead of the customer; “We can capture preferences, intention to act or to not act, to be ready at the right moment and using the right interaction with each customer. Autonomy of the customer will increase and you need to maintain the very good level of communication and listen better and better. And you need to do so without being seen as an ‘intruder’ or you will be pushed out by customers.”

There is an exponential shift to ‘give back’ to the customer according to Chris Travell (MaritzCX). There is a real incentive to close-the-loop and explain how you are using feedback and improving your products and services as a result.

There is also an ever growing interest to involve the customer in the developmental process; it is becoming imperative to put yourself in the shoes of the customer at every touch point.

Caroline Wells looks at how technology will advance customer feedback data being communicated to brands: “We need to think about all the developments that are being made with smartphones and how information can be pinged across from one place to another. At some point in the future there will be technology that means that feedback can be given instantly by people without even knowing they’re doing it. That is the future of this intelligent temperature checker… It might be based on how many times people have to flick back and forth between webpages or how many times they try to reach a number and can’t get through. There is a lot more intelligence behind the scenes that can help us understand what is happening with customers without them having to tell us. That is the bottom line, we’re getting to the stage where our lives are becoming pre-prepared for us by technology and you don’t have to make the effort to tell someone something outright.”


When expanding your customer insight strategies it is important to deploy the test and learn approach. Within these projects allow yourself time to stop, think, learn, react and keep track of your story along the way.