Don't Be Afraid to Get to Know Your Customers!

Business leaders are always looking for new ways to grow their companies. Big data and customer-facing KPIs can help.  Gaining clear insights into customer’s minds and finding better ways to serve them by offering additional services or products is a key strategy for driving growth.

But even today, with so many powerful analytical tools available, many companies are not effectively using big data to guide their growth efforts. Customer focus starts with leadership’s selection and definition of key performance indicators or KPIs. At all levels your KPIs must include both internal and customer-facing indicators to get the kind of customer insights that will drive growth.

One of the most common customer-facing indicators that many operations organizations use is “on-time delivery.” Another, which is much less frequently used, is “on-time-to-customer-request date.” Managers often shy away from this second metric because they don’t think it’s meaningful, or because it can make the operation “look bad” when customers frequently request deliveries at faster-than-published lead times. Ignoring or discounting such a metric sends a signal that you do not want to understand why they’re asking for faster deliveries.

In some scenarios such behavior may be driven by pricing and promotional activities. Or, and this is what you really want to look out for, it indicates a shift in the market or unmet customer needs. The more diverse an organization is, both in products and geography, the more crucial it becomes to measure customer-oriented indicators. When mining your data, look for trends, shifts or anything that will cast a light onto customer behavior.

Analyzing big data is just the beginning of the process for getting to know your customers better. Customer teams, engineers, and sales people need to use the analysis to guide customer visits and find out what’s really happening. This will lead to more questions and possibly additional analysis but if it’s done with purpose and speed then new solutions and offerings can be developed drive growth.

If you don’t seek out and try to fulfill your customers’ unmet needs, somebody else will.