The first post of this series provided an overview of the ACE Survey, discussed the methodology and gave you a sneak peek at the results. In this post, we’ll delve deeper across the three dimensions we evaluated: Strategy & Analytics, Data & Technology, and Organization & Process. Through the survey and resulting analysis, we’ve been able to derive some very insightful and valuable information that you might just find applicable in your own organization.

Strategy & Analytics

The good news: most of our respondents scored themselves high in the area of strategy & analytics. The results indicate that most organizations have a vision and have built a solid customer engagement strategy that aligns to that vision. But we didn’t just ask macro-level questions about strategic capabilities; we drilled down into the specific areas of strategic planning, customer lifetime management, user experience, and customer value to learn just how focused on customer intelligence (CI) and customer engagement (CE) respondents are. Here’s what we found:

  • 50% of respondents have a 3-5 year strategic marketing plan in place that leverages—to some degree—customer intelligence
  • 50% have used customer intelligence to some degree for business and strategic planning across various parts of the organization, although not consistently
  • 25% have championed the use of customer intelligence at the C-level
  • Although more than 80% of respondents are leveraging multiple channels—online and offline—surprisingly, only 37% are integrating campaigns across their various channels.
  • Approximately 50% of respondents do not utilize customer value as a primary metric for evaluating the efficacy of their marketing efforts:
    • 25% of respondents do not calculate customer value at all
    • 19% based their customer value metric on unique customer attributes and behaviors
    • The remaining respondents relied on sales figures or historical data to make customer value estimates

Understanding both current and potential customer value can have significant revenue implications for an organization and we encourage our clients to strongly consider establishing these calculations. How do you measure the value of your customer?

Data &Technology

As I mentioned in my previous post, Data & Technology was the weakest link across the board. Only 50% of our respondents indicated they possess sufficient enough internal data to be used for CI purposes. In fact, the biggest challenge in organizations appears to be a lack of data understanding. Only 6% of respondents said their organization has a universal understanding of data that is supported by source documentation. And, more than 50% rely on technical experts or on documentation that is infrequently updated and not widely available.

Of those who had adequate data (in some cases, too much data), many still struggled with an overall lack of data understanding that was tied to insufficient business intelligence tools and reporting capabilities. Those who rated data understanding poorly also responded low to the organization’s reporting applications. A low 13% of the respondents regularly use and have confidence in the data available in their advanced BI tools.

Lastly, the ability to integrate data from multiple sources was one of the lowest rated (i.e., toughest) areas for our respondents. More than 50% of the companies have fragmented data architecture and siloed data sources (by channel, by brand) and still rely extensively on manual workarounds to get a comprehensive picture of their customer. Data consolidation is a significant undertaking and requires a major investment in both dollars and resources, something many organizations are still reluctant to do. Yet, the return on investment can be significant—from both efficiency gains and marketing ROI.

The responses to the Data & Technology questions remind us that most companies are still struggling in this area. But many of our respondents have already started down the path toward making improvements in their data, tools, and infrastructure.

Organization & Process

Part of the CI professional’s job is to use customer intelligence to inform other parts of the business—strategy, product development, service, etc. But, only 33% of the respondents seemed to have an enterprise-wide approach to sharing information. Another 33% indicated that they are heavily challenged by siloed structures and have disconnected goals and metrics across departments.

These lower numbers reflect the challenges we see in organizational structure and roles. While 69% of the respondents said they have someone responsible for customer intelligence (CI), 13% indicated that role belonged to a marketing or analytics manager, 19% identified a senior executive (mostly marketing), and a very small percentage have a C-level executive or a senior manager exclusively dedicated to CI. With organizations relying so heavily on customer intelligence, these numbers need to change. More companies need to appoint a Customer Intelligence Officer or Chief Customer Officer who has cross-departmental responsibility and thinks in terms of customer metrics.

Given the challenges with leadership, it’s not surprising that many organizations have a dearth of CI professionals on staff. We know these are hard skills to come by and motivating and retaining the very best and brightest can be challenging. Few respondents to our survey indicated that they have consultative CI resources that proactively identify opportunities and risks and help formulate solutions. Only 25% claimed their CI resources took a proactive approach. And, almost 50% of the organizations did not use analysis of historical data to improve future performance.

So now that we’ve identified the challenges and shared where our survey respondents fared, what’s next? Recommendations for those areas that are clearly problematic across the board, namely data availability and understanding, coupled with a lack of BI tools; socialization and use of CI throughout the organization; and a gap in centralized CI leadership.

In our final post, we’ll share those recommendations and provide some case study examples of companies that are realizing significant gains by focusing and leveraging their organization’s customer intelligence.

Want to take the ACE Survey? Click here to assess your own company’s skills.