helping you master customer insight leadership

Are Business and Sport really different?

ac-logoAt conferences and meetings, one of the topics in which you (customer insight leaders) seem particularly interested is leadership coaching. Once it’s been mentioned in a presentation, that is the most likely topic for me to be asked about in the next break. A few of the points that I’ve made on this are:

  • Coaching does work (over 90% of UK companies now use coaching and the academic evidence for efficacy has grown hugely);
  • Customer Insight Leaders would benefit as well (progressive companies are extending beyond CEO to all directors & key leaders);
  • It is for winners not losers (don’t think what’s wrong that they need a coach, think elite athletes use coaches to sustain peak performance);
  • Take care choosing a coach (a recent useful article in EDGE magazine gave a 10 point checklist of things to consider, including qualification and membership of professional body).

Given that message, I was encouraged to see a friend of mine at Abelard Consultancy also blog on what business can learn from sport, especially the importance of goal setting. So, here’s another “other”  guest content:

From my experience, customer insight leaders and other executives can really benefit from the use of goal-orientated performance coaching, to set such goals and consistently achieve them.

Event: Insurance Data & Analytics 2014

Insurance data and analyticsThis event organised by Post Magazine was pretty well attended by Insurers and their suppliers. Although the audience was pretty quiet during Q&A sessions after each speaker, there was plenty of time for questions and a good buzz of questions & ideas during the breaks. A good mix of presentations, interviews and panel sessions as well. With apologies to those who my failing memory has overlooked, here are my recollections:

Magnus Boyd a partner at law firm Hill Dickinson shared his thoughts on privacy & trust generally during an interview with our chairwoman. The most striking thing he raised was the impact on companies from the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation. This will significantly increase the level of fines for breaches and remove the discretion to allow firms longer to declare them. It will also require larger companies to appoint a Data Protection Officer with secure tenure. He could foresee a brisker trade in insurance against data protection breaches for specialist underwriters.

I was presenting on the emerging role of Customer Insight Directors (or CKOs in the USA). Pleasingly it seems my message as to the importance of these roles, leadership, coaching and holistic customer insight complimented other presenters. You can see a part of my message in the previous post on “Breadth of Customer Insight”. A more concerned perspective might be that the majority of presenters still focused on IT, data and analytics as if they hold the answer alone. But some positive conversations in the breaks allayed my fears, at least for a number of the attendees.

Several suppliers shared what they can offer, but two stuck out for me. Visual DNA shared their work on using visual psychographic questionnaires to generate scores which they have shown are predictive of future behaviour. For instance getting customers to unconsciously reveal their risk taking appetite or conscientiousness. It was interested to see how they are using this and the volume of scores already collected. However, I do feel use of this data to drive differential pricing or cover will prompt future questions from the FCA or ICO, given the lack of transparency for the customer as to what they are revealing and for what purpose. What was encouraging was to see at least one of the suppliers engaging with the predictive power of attitudinal as well as behavioural data (i.e. research + analytics).

The other interesting company was Esri. Ostensibly a GIS and mapping data provider, I was unaware of their scale, private ownership and amount reinvested in R&D (very much like the SAS model). What was even more pleasing was to hear of their work with the UN and what a key role Esri plays in helping early on during natural disasters around the world. Providing the UN and NGOs with up to date maps for their work is a key need that does not get much media attention. So it seems that Jack Dangermond has not only built a very successful global privately owned data & analytics business, but one with CSR in its DNA. Good to see.

I was also encouraged by the final presentation from Ian Hood of RSA. He is responsible for RSA’s digital capability, keeping that up-to-date, meeting customer expectations and implementing into an omni-channel world. My encouragement came, once again, from how Ian is using attitudinal as well as behavioural data. Research was used and valued (including the valuable technique of eye tracking studies) to compliment the behavioural data on digital usage and robust “AB testing”, i.e. properly constructed database marketing to test the hypotheses reached from converging research & analysis. Right on my wavelength. It is interesting that I quite often find that this thinking and approach is more prevalent amongst digital teams in corporates, but sadly often because they are run as more independent silos from the main organisation.

So, overall a good event (and like all such events you get out what you put in). I would just like to see the brief for future such events deliberately extended to cover all of customer insight so more sharing and learning can happen across the boundaries that too often exist between data scientists and researchers.

Do you benefit from the full breadth of Customer Insight?

Customer Insight EcosystemDifferent businesses continue to use the term “Customer Insight” to mean different things.

Even in our poll of over 100 customer insight leaders, only half of you considered data management or database marketing to be part of Customer Insight. The majority also had only research reporting into them, not analytics. Does that ring true with your role?

In June, I shared a definition of Customer Insight that I find useful:

“A non-obvious understanding about your customers, which if acted upon, has the potential to change their behaviour for mutual benefit”.

I would stress 4 parts of that definition: First, that insights are non-obvious, they normally require the convergence of evidence for multiple sources to help spot themes and then dig deeper for motivations. Second, that true insights need to be actionable, as there is no point learning something unless you can change commercial results or customer experience as a result. Third, a good test of an “insight” is whether acting on it is powerful enough to change your customers’ behaviour (not just data to  target those you believe will act as they have in the past). Fourth, in this “Age of the Customer”, the importance of trust should mean any insight has the goal of mutual benefit for the organisation and the customer, anything else is short term success for long term value erosion. (more…)

Here today, gone tomorrow

Harford_Cropped_bigger-2Hyperbolic Discounting is one of those names for a Behavioural Economics bias that can put most people off reading further, just because it sounds so technical.

However, Tim Harford (always worth a read, or listen on Radio 4) has done us all a favour by applying the theory to the very practical problem which we all share – getting round to those jobs we said we’ll do tomorrow.

It’s a well written article and one with a number of practical suggestions for practicing overcoming this irrational bias. Some only require a pen and paper, as well as remembering to put in some planning time the night before:

However, the best discovery in this article for me was of an app called Timeful. This has already been launched for the iPhone. It is basically a time management tool in which you enter everything you want to get done. OK, you might be thinking, so what – there are tons of apps for that. However, this one has been designed to help you overcome your hyperbolic discounting tendency. It will provisionally schedule in your diary good times for getting round to those jobs, and as unexpected things happen or priorities change, it will adapt. It basically learns about you, how you manage your time, and will be an advisor to still hold you accountable to times when you should be getting round to your priorities.

Sounds great to me – so I’m off to download it onto my iPhone and give it a try. I will report back on progress, please share below if you have tried it already.

A cloud won’t protect your modesty

2014-09-04_cloud-nudity_3I’m sure we have all heard the news about various famous (and not so famous) celebrities having their iCloud accounts hacked and their nude photos shared on social media. It seems to me there are responsibilities on both sides.

Service providers like Apple should review their security and we should all think about the wisdom of saving such personal data in any cloud service.

The best article I have seen on this data & privacy topic is this balanced review by David Reed, editor of Data IQ magazine:

 

 

Why should Behavioural Economics matter to you?

Behavioural EconomicsSince presenting at their regional events and writing an article for the CII’s Journal, I’ve continued to hear a demand for more understanding of Behavioural Economics (BE).

It appears the majority of insurers have delegated this challenge to their risk & pricing teams and few are engaging actively with their marketing and customer insight teams.

I think this is a missed opportunity, not just for better compliance with FCA expectations, but also for the commercial gains to be made from better designed communications.

That said, I suspect the majority of you have at least heard of Behavioural Economics. In recent years, the success of popular books on the subject, have ensured plenty of media coverage and social media debate on its implications.

Easy to read books, as introductions to the subject, have included “Nudge” by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein. More comprehensive and challenging is a classic text like “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahnemann. Both are well worth reading but there are now many others to choose from.

What makes this subject of greater relevance to the Financial Services industry, however, is the influence of Behavioural Economics on the thinking of both the UK Government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Government policy is being influenced by the work of their “nudge unit”. Meanwhile, the FCA has commented that it expects companies to consider how their customers actually make decisions. (more…)

Poll: Latest results on analytics software

© Robert F. Balazik | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Well with over 60 votes in, the results appear to have stabilised into a clear pattern. As has been the case through most of my customer insight career, SAS and SPSS (now IBM) are the leading analytics software used by CI teams. For several weeks now they have tied at 25% of votes each.

The real change over recent years, at least from my perspective working with Financial Services companies, has been the rise of R. In this survey it now stands at 17% of the vote, 14 percentage points above any other single entry. That is a significant change and has been influenced by both cost saving during recessionary times and what appears to be a new perspective on open source software (since the success of Linux, Wiki-everything and more recently Hadoop). It will be interesting to see if this dominance continues during our economic recovery.

Another benefit, of course, is the familiarity of graduates with using R at university. For those hiring the majority of their new analysts straight from university (a recruitment strategy that worked well for me for years), it does enable them to be up & working sooner.

Thanks for taking part in the poll and I hope it’s informative to those of you leading analytics teams.

For further information on the top three software (as voted for by CI leaders), here are their links:

SAS

IBM SPSS

The R Project for Statistical Computing