How to Translate Customer Insight into Business Action

Most conversations on market research centre on how to get customer insights. Which is a pretty important topic in the industry, but what use are customer insights if the stakeholders we generate them for don’t know how to use them properly?

Making sure that the insights are used to the best of their ability hasn’t been too much of a priority for researchers and insight teams as it should have been, and this has caused a number of issues — stakeholders don’t understand the power they hold, they don’t see the true value of market research, they don’t make the best decisions with the insight given so the situation doesn’t get resolved as easily and they automatically assume the fault lies with the insights and the team that created them.

This obviously has bad implications for the insights industry, and it is in our best interest to help stakeholders translate customer insights into business action. So how do we do this? By educating stakeholders on how to use insights wisely and enabling easy access to insights as much as possible.

Educating Stakeholders on Insights

Insight have a lot of power when it comes to pointing the right direction for business action, especially when said insights have been created by harnessing raw customer data. But how can insight teams educate stakeholders on how to use them wisely and translate them into business decisions?

One way insight teams can start with is to create regular learning opportunities to discuss insights and research projects. Some insight teams have implemented ‘lunch and learn’ or ‘snack and learn’ opportunities, which are essentially open forums for stakeholders to come together with insight professionals to ask questions and learn about the opportunities and research going on in the insight team at that moment in time. The frequency of this opportunity should depend on the business, but when starting to educate stakeholders, these forums could be a great regular occurrence that starts a line of dialogue between teams.

Educating stakeholders on how to translate insights into action is easy to say, but how can insight teams do this in reality?

But in-person isn’t the only way to open communication on insights between stakeholders and insight teams. Ramping this up with dedicated insight communication channels, regular research newsletters, etc. can help foster internal communication and get stakeholders from all teams used to seeing insights in their daily conversations, and then the increased frequency of insights means they’ll be more likely take those insights into account in key decision-making processes.

To cover all gaps in the equation, insight teams can place dedicated insight team members in board meetings to bring up insight and recommend research when the occasions arise has an impact in a couple of ways — firstly, insight teams get a front row seat to key business contexts that can help inform current and future research; and secondly, stakeholders have a chance to make in-the-moment decisions based on the insights the researcher can report at that moment in time. But insight teams cannot be everywhere and at every decision at once, so appointing and implementing members of other teams as insight advocates and using them as the line of communication between insight teams and stakeholders can help extend this exercise further.

Lastly for now, insight teams make research reports engaging. A reason why stakeholders might not translate customer insights into business action quite as easily, is because insights have been buried in lengthy written reports for years now. These aren’t the most engaging of materials to read, and when stakeholders need to make a decision in-the-moment, leafing through a long wordy report to find the right insight to help just won’t happen.

In the last few years, the research report has undergone a substantial revolution, and there are now multiple ways of reporting insights that capture stakeholders attention enough for them to use the insights inside: for example, using video as a medium is becoming increasingly popular as more researchers develop the skills needed to pull this off, and creating bite-sized insight delivery systems through newsletters and posters, etc. so stakeholders can read the insights and find them again quicker than in written reports can be a useful method too.

Ramping Up the Power of Insights in an Organisation

On the stakeholder’s end, there are many tactics they can implement to make sure that the insights are used to the best of their potential, and these tactics are based on the principles of connection and communication between customers, insight teams and stakeholders.

The first tactic might be obvious, but needs to be mentioned: keep customer insights in the conversation. This can be done in a number of ways, from the creation of insight advocates across all teams within the organisation to ramping up insight communications to catch the notice of all teams. But stakeholders can implement measures just as much as insight teams to ensure that insights stay an integral part of all conversations across the organisation, taking a good step towards embedding a culture of insight into their brand.

This step also provides a channel for asking questions, so if any insights or recommendations should confuse or incite the need for more answers, then those questions can be asked and answers can be provided. Once questions are answered, this helps stakeholders make sure that recommendations are taken forward to the fullest extent possible with their current operational capabilities, or at least are registered as next steps in key strategic processes.

The onus to translate insight into action isn’t just on insight teams, there are many things stakeholders can do to play their part in ramping up the power of insights in a business.

This is also a great incentive to drive opportunities for stakeholders to actively get involved in the research. Insight teams know that stakeholders will have more background knowledge about the contexts driving the decisions, and their own operational capabilities which will dictate the options that insights can be applied to at the end of things. The more stakeholders are involved in the research project itself, the more connected they will feel to the customers who are providing the data and insights.

Obviously, there are times where collaboration won’t be possible, but tailoring the level of stakeholder involvement to each research project will help both the insight team and stakeholders implement a quality research experience. For those times where the level of stakeholder involvement is slim, insight teams can combat the lack of connection by using verbatim video clips in the research report and/or presentation to connect better stakeholders to their customers.

Most of these tactics are proven to work by customer-centric organisations. Customer-centric firms have many ways of automatically embedding insight into decision-making processes as soon as the insights are formed. With a working culture of insight driving the decision made across an organisation, a wealth of opportunities present themselves for stakeholders to embed the voice of the customer deep into their operations.

This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.

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FlexMR is The Insights Empowerment Company. We help brands to act decisively, stay close to customers and embed agile insight at the heart of every decision.