Tag Archives: Customer Engagement

Artificial Intelligence: Is This The Future of Market Research and Consumer Insights?

We already know how artificial intelligence has been affecting marketing, with everyone from Netflix to Under Armor utilizing data to improve customer experience, but how exactly can market researchers hope to use AI? And apart from all those hip and trendy businesses using it that we hear about ‘ are there really any implications for non-tech related companies?

Artificial intelligence indeed has implications for market researchers in every industry to predict shopper behaviors such as: what and how much customers will buy, what they will pay and how they will engage (customer retention) once they’ve purchased a company’s products. Roger Perowne wrote in ResearchLive this month: ‘(We need) Technology targeted at understanding how and why we make choices and decisions, not just navigating us to a shopping aisle.’ Well that technology is here and it’s artificial intelligence. The beauty of AI is that it gives us so much more than purchase data from brick and mortar and online stores but can incorporate shopper intent, regional patterns, comparative data from other industries and more. Here are a few examples where AI is being used for consumer insights.

Improving Customer Engagement with AI

Insurer and finance company United Services Automobile Association (USAA) uses an AI product built by Intel’s Saffron that matches patterns of consumer behavior to predict how customers might contact them, and about what products they will have inquiries about. This allows USAA to plan customer service staffing as well as be more personalized in their communications ‘ leading to cost savings for them and better experiences for their customers. 
AI’s not just about science fiction and robots. Photo: Ryan McGuire
Predicting Consumer Demand with AI Sales Forecasting

Analyst Greg Maczka had this to say on Quora about the future of qualitative research and product development: ‘AI will have a much greater impact on actual, real life analysis which will eliminate the need to set up elaborate and unrealistic testing situations in the first place. And that’ll be the future of market research.’ The company easyJet is already in that future, with predictive analytics helping them plan flight destinations and times as well as the food and drink items they serve on their flights. Their Head of Data Science Alberto Ray-Villaverde spoke with Future Travel Experience early this year: ‘According to Villaverde, the difference between analytics and AI is that the former has been about diagnostic capability and looking backwards, whereas the latter is focused on predictive capability, which can help organisations better understand and plan for the future.’

Price optimization Using Machine Learning

Companies such as Vendo, Daisy Intelligence, Fractal Analytics and Blue Yonder have begun to apply artificial intelligence to pricing. What exactly does dynamic pricing software do? Here’s a description of what Blue Yonder’s software does: ‘monitor(s) internal (sales history, real-time demand) and external data (weather, public holidays, school holidays, competitor pricing) leading to the optimal price point for any product’ continuously tests and measures the response to price changes by analyzing interactions between that price change and subsequent changes in demand.’

Airbnb began to use machine intelligence when they realized what a difficult time their customers ‘ typically amateurs in such matters ‘ were having figuring out how much to charge to rent their homes. Airbnb created their own in-house software tool which offers their customers a very unique form of dynamic pricing, offering them pricing tips based on changing market conditions as well as custom pricing based on the various characteristics of their listings. You can read the very interesting story of how they designed and tweaked their internal AI pricing software here.

So there you have it, artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction, and it’s not just something reserved for trendy Silicon Valley companies. AI is on a mission to clear out the error-prone focus groups and disjointed data to bring real-time, relevant insights to market researchers and marketers.

If you’re interested in this and other technology innovations in the market research industry, don’t miss the world’s leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard – Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Statisfy Has the New Social Media Intelligence Tool with All the Answers

Statisfy, a Boston tech startup consumer
insight gathering platform and customer engagement tool, unveiled today at the InsighTech
Conference in San Francisco that its Social Intelligence Tool product has over
1,750 online publishers using their tool in less than 30 days of its release.
Founded in 2014 by co-founders Dean Wiltse and Dave Casion, Statisfy is
changing the way brands and businesses understand and engage with their
constituents and followers. Using Statisfy, brands can easily gather
deep insight by asking engaging image based questions to their social media
followers, their website visitors, and more.
‘Our goal with Statisfy was to create a truly engaging platform where businesses
and brands could take full advantage of social media as a rich and untapped
site of market intelligence gathering. Right now, we’re the only option
for those looking to accurately and quickly gather rich customer insight,
increase social media engagement, and learn from their followers and
constituencies across social, web, and mobile platforms,’ said Wiltse, CEO and
co-founder of Statisfy.
Statisfy’s team believes that asking questions is a
fundamental part of the human condition. Every individual has questions waiting
to be asked, but Statisfy believes that existing social spaces do not encourage
this. Its team embarked on an endeavor to put a product in people’s hands which
enables them to actively engage with one another and facilitate greater
understanding of humankind via technology.
Statisfy allows content creators and publishers to make the most of their
content by creating and embedding image-based polls which then engage audiences
in an innovative way. To date, Statisfy has image based polls on over 1,765
online publishers. Although
businesses have reacted to changes in consumer behavior by creating presences
on social media, those platforms have remained push platforms, rather than
pull. With Statisfy, brands can ask targeted, image-based questions to their
social media followers, website visitors, and consumers which has the ability
to collect answers from thousands of people. Those results are then
automatically generated into easy-to-read and share statistics.

Casion President, CTO and co-founder of Statisfy, said, ‘We
make it easy and accurate for businesses to draw conclusions about their social
media followers and website visitors. These insights can be used to inform
product development, marketing campaigns, and business decisions. We’re also
giving people a way to anonymously compare themselves and their opinions to
those of others, which they can then share out via social media.’ 

Recap: The Future of Consumer Intelligence 2014

Imagine a line drawn in the sand that is filled with hot
burning coals. To the left of the burning line stands
a group of people. And to the right of the burning line stands another group of people. The
group of people on the left are all directly facing the burning line drawn in the
sand and are staring at the opposing group. The group on the right are also all facing
the burning line drawn in the sand, staring directly at the group on the left.
The burning line drawn in the sand represents trust. The
group of people on the left believe they are entitled to the right group’s
trust because they are trying to help them. The group on the right believes
trust is earned and will not easily give it to the group on the left. The tug of
war between the two groups over trust causes friction and creates the burning
line drawn in the sand that neither can cross without the right tools.
The above scenario is analogous to what was presented at the
recent 2014 Future of Consumer Intelligence conference (#FOCI14). The group to the left was Big Business, the group to the right was the Public and we as
attendees were willing and able to sit right on the burning line drawn in the sand and
discuss how to bridge the gap between groups.


As marketers and researchers we love to collect lots of data
with the intention of using personal information to improve products, services,
and lives. But at what point is it considered invasion of privacy? Do consumers
really know how their data is being used, regardless of whatever they agreed
to? At FOCI14 it was made evident that as marketers and researchers, we teeter
on the brink of ‘Empowerment vs. Endagerment’. The path to maintaining the
balance and bridging the gap on the subject of data between Big Business and
the Public was made evident: provide clear, concise rules and guidelines for
how consumer data is used that moves past legality and into the territory of
Clearly our industry is at a point of disruptive innovation as
new technologies and methodologies allow researchers to get a clearer picture
of consumer insights. But who are behind all of these insights? That’s right,
people. In our industry we label people as consumers, customers, shoppers,
respondents, target markets and more. But remember that behind all of our
studies are people. And sometimes we can act as a barricade between companies,
their brands, and their consumers in an attempt to remain unbiased and objective. So how do we
bridge the gap?
For starters, John Havens, Founder of The H(app)athon Project, suggests we
can begin by switching out the label ‘consumer’ with ‘customer’. Whereas Elizabeth
Merrick, Senior Customer Insights Manager of HSN suggests we consider research
as another touch point of the brand, ‘We should allow customers to contribute
to a brand, not just consume it.’
So it appears the segue between marketing science and people
is essentially personal treatment and recognizing that customers are more than
a data point within a spreadsheet.

From John Havens, The H(app)athon Project
The more I thought about it, FOCI14′s tagline of The Convergence of Technology, Marketing
Science & Humanization of Data seemed unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) dichotomous where both Big Business and the Public were descending upon the line drawn in the sand. So
it goes with technology & humanization.
There is no doubt that technology improves lives at
blistering speeds. Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering for Google pointed
out that, ‘Information Technology expands exponentially across time, not
linearly.’ But as we become more technologically advanced, do we lose a piece
of our humanity and our identity?
As we discussed more and more about the subjects of technological advances, psychological
habits, triggers, and touch points at FOCI14, it seemed the key to closing the
gap between technology & humanization of data relied upon engagement. If new
technologies enable to us to engage with customers in a more meaningful way and
people are able to build stronger psychological connections with each other,
then the gap is bridged. If on the other
hand, the research community were to stand disengaged with customers and people, then technology & humanization in
the field will stand diametrically opposed on a bridge that is about to
So the real question in all of this is, ‘Has your
organization bridged the line drawn in the sand’?

Tom Krause, VP of Client Services, Gongos Research
“It’s all about people”
Chris Ruby is an award-winning Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive with Fortune 500 consulting experience. His niche is the ability to turn complex data into compelling stories that induce a call for action among key decision-makers. His work has been featured by MRA, MRIA, IIR, Norstat Times, Chadwick Martin Bailey & the Optimization Group. Keep up with Chris Ruby by following him on Twitter @ChrisRubyMRX or by reading the Chris Ruby Market Research Blog.

Put People First – Your Success Depends On It

Photo by paul bica

“Those that will always help a friend, will always have a friend.” – Anthony Douglas Williams, inspirational author

When you put people first in everything you do, you will be rewarded in many ways. Companies that put people first – their employees as well as their customers – achieve new and higher levels of loyalty.

Putting people first allows you to understand the key drivers of employee and customer satisfaction so you can leverage empathy to improve their experiences.

Is your company customer-focused or operations-focused? Find out by reading
“Six Differences Between Customer-Focused Companies and Operations-Focused Companies” by Shep Hyken.

If people are your priority, use these insights from this year’s Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit to help you design and deliver exceptional customer and employee experiences:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and on her website at www.starrybluebrilliance.com.

    Never Eat Alone

    Never Eat Alone was advice that I followed a few years ago when I attended the North American Conference on Customer Management.  I had lunch and conversations with like-minded people that wanted to learn more about customer service excellence.   Experts gave presentations of the best practices of building relationships with clients, as I nibbled on my croissant.   At the cocktail reception, I connected with other attendees and presenters as they shared their passion for customer service.   After I returned home, I connected with many of my contacts.  One of the exceptional speakers was Kelly Cook, Senior Vice President of Marketing at DSW.   As a founder and Board Director of Texas Women in Business, I asked Kelly to keynote at the annual anniversary luncheon.  Her presentation on Women in Leadership Roles was well-received and DSW even hosted a reception at one of their Austin locations.
    Customer Service & Shoe Lovers!

    At the Total Customer Experience Leader’s Summit coming soon in Miami, Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, will speak on Changing Behavior Towards the Customer Experience.  His insights on helping others and ourselves break bad habits will be helpful in our personal and business lives.   Ferrazi, son of a steelworker and a cleaning lady, developed the practice of connecting with others that helped him earn a scholarship to Yale, a Harvard MBA and top executive positions.   His principles are based on generosity & genuine relationship-building.  As you attend the Total Conference, a few key principles to follow are:  

    • Don’t keep score:  It is never simply about getting what you want.  It’s about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.
    •  “Ping” constantly:  The Ins and Outs of reaching out to those in your circle of contacts all the time – not just when you need something.  
    • Never eat alone:  The dynamics of status are the same whether you’re working at a corporation or attending a social event – “invisibility” is a fate worse than failure.   

    Each day there are opportunities to follow thought-leaders on the topic of Factoring Empathy into the Stakeholder Equation.  Amazing speakers are on the agenda and you will have the opportunity to not only connect with the experts but determine your own strategy for exceptional customer experience.  Learn from my personal experience and set the intention to never eat alone but to create relationships with attendees and experts.  

    Download the brochure for more information: http://bit.ly/1idxeUe 

    Idea Gathering: Customer Experience & Customer Journey Mapping

    Not just hearing, but translating innovations and insights is a huge part of the value of the Total Customer Experience Leaders. Our unique idea gathering wrap-ups between sessions facilitate alignment of customer strategy inspiration with business relevant actions and have been one of our most highly rated features in the past.

    Here on the blog, we’ll be presenting weekly idea gathering wrap ups of some of our favorite customer experience strategy, design and alignment news and views.  

    This week our focus is on Customer Journey Maps.

    Customer Journey Maps are one of the most underrated parts of a good Customer Experience Strategy and are all too often under utilized or not used at all. Imagine a general who made battle strategies without a map or a contractor trying to build something without blueprints. 

    These examples are exactly as absurd as trying to create a customer experience strategy without a customer journey map. Customer Journey maps track customer engagement with a business every step of the way from the first interaction, or thoughts of potential interaction, to after the sale, and every possible step in between. 

    Customer Journey Mapping is about understanding the wants, needs, interactions, and emotions of the customer in relation to your business. How does walking into one of your stores make a customer feel? What is a customer thinking when they search for your product online? These are examples of questions that a good customer map should answer. Taking the time out to actually relate to the emotions of customers is an invaluable effort that will reflect greatly on actual customer experience. PeopleMetrics describes this kind of customer empathy as ‘mak[ing] it easier to shift out of internal process mode and into thinking about how the company could be doing a better job of delivering value to customers.’
    Customer Journey Maps should not be taken lightly and to create a truly effective map takes a lot of time and research to determine actual customer experiences and emotions. You also might not like what your first map looks like but that’s part of the process.
    UXmatters.com explains that Customer Journey Mapping is all about very subtly selling service design. They define service design as ‘the design of the overall experience of a service, as well as the design of the process and strategy for providing that service’ . 

    This means that customers should enjoy the experience of doing business with a company every step of the way despite the fact that the experience is not something which can physically be capitalized on. So while making a Customer Journey Maps wont instantly give you business,  when properly used, they will significantly improve the experience of the customer.

    About the Author

    Jeffrey Marino is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Tech Innovations. He blogs at Fordham Nights and can bereached at JMarino@iirusa.com.

    “Driving Best-In-Class Customer Experience” Webinar Recording Available

    Recently we were pleased to present a webinar entitled “Driving Best-In-Class Customer Experience: Beyond Social Media Listening” in cooperation with EmPower Research, a Genpact company.

    In this session, presenter Sagita Joshi explored the customer experience ecosystem, discussing the ways that listening and engagement can be performed on social media channels.  We learned more about the ways that Twitter “has become the help desk” with examples such as Lenovo and Best Buy’s “Twelpforce” leading the way.

    Joshi presented a “win me, delight me, keep me” approach to social media customer experience building, with Empower finding that over time increased awareness of a brand on social media lead to up to 37% more first timers visiting a brand’s page. To learn more, view a recording of the webinar here.

    Are you using social media for customer experience?

    About EmPower Research:
    EmPower Research, a Genpact company (NYSE:G) provides integrated media and business research services. We help our clients understand stakeholder perception and needs, empowering them to service better. We use proprietary methodologies to listen and learn about conversations in the customer ecosystem, deriving real insights for active stakeholder engagement.
    For more information, visit http://www.empowerresearch.com 

    Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com

    Creating Value For Your Customers Through Mobile

    If there’s one consistent theme that we hear when it comes to mobile, it’s that unwanted mobile marketing can feel intrusive, or be viewed as spam, whereas the right mobile content at the right time can be extremely effective. When you are providing real value to your customers through your mobile content it builds loyalty and engagement.

    The HealtheHorizons’ visioncheck app, which is available free on iTunes right now, is a perfect example of providing such value. As part of Allergan’s HealtheHorizons’ wellness programs, the app is a unique application for screening three common eye diseases in diabetics. Targeted at active individuals with limited time and desire to see a doctor, the app provides quick, useful vision tests, and more information on common questions and concerns, it also further encourages one to contact an eye care professional. This video explains further:

    Mark S. Miller, Director of Marketing ‘ Channel Strategy, Allergan , Inc. will be speaking on this topic more at the upcoming Mobile Marketing Conference in Miami.

    At his session, you’ll learn:
    ‘ How Allergan leveraged apps and tablets to build disease awareness and education
    ‘ Key drivers impacting consumer decisions
    ‘ How mobile can save time and money

    Save 15% when you register with code TMMC12DIGITAL here.

    P.S. Join our social media community! Our new LinkedIn Group is a place to share expertise and brilliant ideas on anything mobile marketing and you can also follow us on Twitter or on Facebook for conference updates and industry insider news.

    Got Happiness? NACCM Provides Solutions!

    The North American Conference on Customer Management began with great speakers with informative and entertaining messages about Managing Customer Satisfaction. The attendees shared about their objective to return to their workplace with new ideas, renewed commitment, and inspiration to lead their teams. You could see heads nodding in the room as these managers agreed on principles, challenges, programs, dedication to the customer experience and most importantly a determination for new approaches to continue and improve processes to delight our customers.

    We began the day with JoAnna Brandi, Customer Care Coach, that shared the science on how happiness can not only create endorphins and serotonin, along with a long list of other benefits, that improve our problem solving abilities, focus, creativity, and resilience to name a few. The formula for happy customers included the AAA Feedback – Acknowledge & Affirm, Amplify it, and Anchor it. Statistics was also a part of equation in understanding the 60% spread in performance when employees are praised, supported, and show strengths versus emphasizing weakness. An enthusiastic and well-documented presentation on the subject of positivity was enjoyed by all.
    Kate Feather, People Metrics, gave a presentation on Brand Ambassadors and improving customer engagement. One of the most powerful measures for investment in customer service programs was that a 5 point increase in customer engagement could improve average stock price by as much as 26% while a 5 point decrease caused stock performance to be below the industry average. Julie Broderick of Signature Flight Support gave a case study of their Voice of the Customer Feedback Program. The program includes action alerts and accountability that maintains momentum.
    The final morning speaker was Randall Brandt of Maritz. He shared about setting the bar for customer satisfaction by determining and evaluating the goal whether judgement, benchmarking, or linkage-based targets are used. The objective is to drive continuous improvement to realize desired results.
    As a speaker, trainer, and writer, I feel validated, encouraged, and inspired by a room full of advocates that share my passion and unwavering commitment to outstanding customer service. I enjoyed my conversations with other attendees like David Fischer of John Deere, C.J. Muniz of Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Faith Williams, Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Yes, happiness rules here in Orlando and I haven’t even enjoyed a lunch yet.
    Connie Brubaker
    Integrity Training Solutions
    512 346 7270

    Looking at Social CRM

    Is Social Customer Relationship Management or “Social CRM” the “next big thing” in the social media world? The concept is nothing new, (when it comes to brands, what is social media good for if not building and strengthening relationships with customers?) but the best way to find, mine and integrate social media data for CRM is still being debated.

    Back in February of 2011, #SocialC20 speaker Michael Tchong of Ubercool explored social CRM in this article wherein he cited the following statistic “26% of respondents said they currently integrate their customers’ social networking information with their existing CRM data, with 72% planning to integrate social networking information into their existing CRM system.”

    Is your company part of that 26%? Do you think that number has grown since the article was written? With traditional CRM companies like Salesforce embracing the integration of social media data it seems likely.

    Today I came across this article on CRM Buyer about the likely effect of Google+ on the social CRM world. I was particularly intrigued by the following quote:

    “That’s because CRM is still seen at its elemental level as an IT function, and data in social media is still seen just as data — as in, data to be extracted, processed, filed and used at a later date. It’s very easy to remove data from the conversation, and thus the context; doing so minimizes the value of the data and represents a missed opportunity.”

    Is it possible to find and use that data, while still remaining social and engaged? Or does the very act of seeing social conversations as a source of data for a company get in the way of maintaining an effective social media presence or encouraging a thriving online community? There must be room for both. As the article later went on to say, it’s a matter of finding a CRM software for monitoring conversations, but relying on a human to know how to use and react to the data.

    “The human’s role will be to shoot for customer satisfaction, build customer knowledge, and boost the brand of the business; the technology can then collect data as a useful by-product of what the human’s trying to do.”

    If you’re interested in learning more about the Social CRM world, consider joining IIR for the Social Media CRM Symposium at the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit. You can view ongoing coverage of the conference as details develop on the Customer’s 1st blog here or by following @TotalCustomer on twitter.