As I wrote in my recently published report, customer insights (CI) are an increasingly critical source of competitive differentiation in the age of the customer. Forward-thinking business and technology management leaders in Asia Pacific (AP) are actively looking to better leverage customer data and advanced analytics to increase marketing effectiveness and improve the customer experience (CX).

Unfortunately this isn’t the case everywhere. Many AP firms still lag in their understanding of customer analytics. They also lack the skills and ability to execute.

A collection of internal and external factors will affect customer analytics success. How can you improve your ability to transform available data into insight? Start by taking Forrester’s self-assessment to help determine where your organization falls in Forrester’s customer analytics maturity model and use that to identify specific areas of focus for future improvement.

But CI pros can also minimise risk by taking the following concrete steps:

  • Link customer analytics to broader CX and digital initiatives. Effective digital transformation fueled by CI requires an outside-in approach to customer understanding. For most AP organizations, this is only possible with direct CEO support. In the absence of executive sponsorship, successful customer analytics will likely be limited to improving and/or extending existing marketing approaches – important, but nowhere near sufficient.
  • Actively leverage CI to optimize existing marketing capabilities. While it’s not enough to ensure sustained success in the age of the customer, improving the use of data to optimize marketing campaigns is still necessary. This includes core capabilities around database marketing, campaign planning, forecasting, and predictive modeling as well as performance monitoring, measurement, and analysis — all of which rely on effective data integration and analytics.
  • Expect to augment internal skills where necessary. Most AP organizations have limited experience in areas like customer journey mapping to accurately predict data and analytics requirements or leveraging social listening and voice of the customer platforms to increase engagement. In most cases, CI pros will leverage a combination of in-house and external capabilities from agencies, professional services firms, and external analytics service providers.
  • Develop strong data governance as a way to win consumer confidence. The days of competing on low prices are long gone. As companies collect and analyze a plethora of consumer data to gain insights into customer behavior and thus purchasing patterns, the need to store this data securely and control access becomes all the more pressing. Companies that have strong data governance — setting ethical guidelines on how data should be properly accessed and stored securely — are unlikely to face backlash from the public. Quite the opposite: they will increase customer loyalty as consumers trust and have confidence in the company’s products and services.