Unconventional ways of getting customer insight

We’ll always need to know what customers are thinking so we can figure out if our products or services meet their needs now or in the future. But is the age of the whitepaper survey dead and should we now be finding different sources of data? At Moneypenny, we've pulled together a variety of ways to gather, interrogate and share customer insight.

Live Chat conversation insight

Moneypenny runs Live Chat - software managed by real UK-based chat agents - on behalf of its clients. In addition to giving customer service, Moneypenny is turning the chat transcripts into actionable insights.

Let me explain this further. The information contained in the chat conversations is valuable to the business that customer is ‘chatting’ to. In the chat box, businesses can see, in black and white, the emotions driving their enquiry and keywords that repeatedly crop up give clues as to why customers are enquiring. It’s an information source not to be dismissed; people give a surprising amount of detail over their chat conversations that they sometimes won’t give over the phone. 

At Moneypenny, we found Live Chat transcripts an invaluable source of real-time insight at the start of the pandemic as the market for our outsourced receptionist services quickly changed. New customer needs were uncovered, and new verticals suddenly needed our support. 

We were able to use this insight to refocus our budgets on growing sectors, whilst also using this for product development and redesigning our services. As an example, our integration with Microsoft Teams born out of requests for this as video calling took off in 2020. 

AI sentiment analysis

As this insight from online customer conversations becomes more valuable to businesses, there is a need to be able to analyse this accurately and quickly - in other words, to turn conversations over Live Chat into readable data to mine for trends. Moneypenny’s CTO, Pete Hanlon, explains: “We wanted to unlock the insight from these conversations our customers were having and also understand the contact. This is why we use tools like AI and deep learning to release it, so we can observe trends in sectors, for instance conveyancing. Using Infinity by HuggingFace, we were able to process a year's worth of anonymised conversations and trends in only an hour.”

Research surveys 

Moneypenny also runs a lot of surveys as an insight mining exercise. We don’t always use the results in our marketing activity, but it gives us a window into key markets and trends we wouldn’t otherwise have. 

If you’re after media attention, your PR and content team will be looking for stats, so you’ll need to run a survey to give you that quantitative data. Headline stats that ‘make headlines’ are those that surprise or even shock. For instance, in a survey Moneypenny recently ran, we discovered that a huge 92% of facilities managers would outsource their communications. It was wonderful for us to read, and fascinating for the industry press as they couldn’t have predicted such a high percentage. The key here is a large number of survey respondents. Another option is running the survey in conjunction with a media partner, therefore guaranteeing an audience to poll and press coverage of the results. 
Stats-based content campaigns can be thought provoking, particularly if you dig into a topic that your market would like to know more about. The more specific here, the better.

Through a results-led campaign you can pick-up more interest from customers who might only be aware of your company’s name but also present something to them in detail about what they do, associates you with knowledge of their industry.

Lead-generating surveys

Being seen as the expert in their field will keep you front of mind when the day comes that they need your services. Lead generating survey software, CogniClick, is one way of running such a campaign. As an alternative to a longer research project producing a whitepaper, it produces a real-time peer comparison report with the option to receive an in-depth report at the end of the survey lifetime. The objective is to shorten the lead generation time considerably by capturing their data before the report is run. 

Of course, there is always the traditional market research survey. The data you receive will be clean, trustworthy, and valuable. The flip side of surveys is they’re not cheap. Certainly not if you’re polling a large audience for some real analysis. A reputable market research poll could set you back approx. £4,000 to £10,000+ depending on audience size. But good results from solid, well thought out questions should have a lifespan of a few years.

Online reviews

So much more than social proof, online reviews can be a powerful source of insight and feedback as customers use them to make informed choices about the quality, cost, and service levels of a business. According to BrightLocal, 91% of people read online reviews, and 84% trust reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend. From this, they make a purchasing decision quickly - 68% form their opinion after reading six or fewer reviews. So it pays to take them as seriously as every other customer channel.

Online reviews might seem difficult to control because, for the most part, they’re out of your hands. But it’s this distance freedom the customer has that enables them to give their honest insight, so it’s wise to leverage these. In essence, they’re telling you what they like, dislike and what you should change about your business. It’s worth spending time analysing patterns in what you’re being told. And of course, acting upon them. 

Key takeaways:

  • Existing data can be refined and mined for insight - Live Chat transcripts and online reviews can provide a fantastic first-hand window into your customers’ thoughts and buying journey.
  • Whilst large-scale audience surveys are expensive, their results can be valuable, particularly to understand a new market.
  • Long-form reports and whitepapers may have a place, but shorter and instant results surveys can work as the basis of a lead generation marketing campaign.

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