helping you master customer insight leadership

Correlation is not Causality

Causality bookI don’t know about you, but one of the perennial issues I experience when communicating analytical findings to clients, or fellow business leaders, is to help them avoid the pitfall of assuming that correlation equates to causation.

Once a relationship can be shown between some customer characteristics and the objective of interest, say likelihood to purchase, people love to rush to hypotheses as to why this makes sense – even when it is extremely unlikely and causation has not been proven.

Now there are plenty of studies showing examples of spurious correlations, like the proportion of blue-eyed customers coming into a store in Moscow and the murder rate in Los Angeles. So, an extreme example can normally be thought up to illustrate this danger. However, too few people actually understand causality and how it can be proven statistically. This is also important because of the unconscious bias that we all have to seek to simplify problems and attribute causation as soon as possible; thus it can feel like ‘swimming up stream’ to suspend judgement and seek robust evidence.

So, I’m pleased to share this guest content, by Vincent Granville, recommending a classic text to help with this very challenge:

 

Have you read this? How do you help others understand whether to not they have proven causality?

3 tips for get more value from your Database Marketing team

database marketing

The latest in our series of ‘top tips’, are some thoughts on getting the most out of your Database Marketing team.

By this name (or DBM), I mean the team who provide the selections for targeted direct marketing, or pre-scored leads for inbound channels.

This may involve your team also developing that targeting, normally a mixture of explainable ‘trigger event’ and filtering by propensity to respond (say from a logistic regression model), or that targeting may be provided by your analytics team.

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Data-driven Spam is not an improvement

Bottles in art exhibitionOur latest sharing of content from others is this article from Mark Cameron. He makes the very important point, that just being better at targeting your messages or executing them more efficiently, will not protect you from it being spam.

The forgotten component, in too much data & digital marketing ‘innovation’, is understanding your customers (their needs & what they view as relevant).

 

I hope you enjoy this article as well. In line with some comments I made when reviewing ‘Marketing Payback’, I fear that today’s marketers have become captivated with digital/mobile/social/omni-channel capabilities and taken their eye off the ball of some marketing basics. That applies just as much to the need to really know your customer as it does to being able to accurately measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

Customer Insight Leadership will be needed more than ever to address the failures that are bound to result from over-inflated expectations. Just as, in the past, data warehouses and CRM systems rarely lived up to their promise – we are just beginning to see the same with platforms for social & mobile marketing. But all these capabilities have the potential to be relevant to customers lives, if you put the customer first and our guided by what you need to know from them first.

Do you agree? Please share your thoughts on this guest post.

 

3 tips for maximising the impact of your Research team

research team
The winning creative team from the ArtSlam 2010 event by Realize Bradenton (is your team invisible?)

Starting with this post, I am going to share a weekly series of ‘3 top tips’ for maximising the value of each of the different technical teams within a Customer Insight department; starting with the research team.

This content is intended to complement our previous focus on holistic customer insight.

None of what I’m about to share is rocket science and is probably only a reminder of what you knew already. However, these updates will comprise lessons learnt, normally from getting it wrong first, and so are practical advice “from the trenches”. Given recent content has focussed on data or analytics, I will start with some advice for leaders to maximise the value of their in-house research team. (more…)

Your Barriers to maximising the value of your Customer Insight

barriersInterestingly, the interim results from our recent  poll on barriers to realising value, are revealing that there isn’t one most common barrier to maximising the value of your customer insight.

Instead, your votes have identified 7 equally likely barriers. Perhaps it really is, as Proverbs puts it, “the little foxes who spoil the vineyard”.

They say a problem shared is a problem halved, so hopefully it helps you to understand the barriers that other leaders are facing. In this post I’ll also share some initial thoughts on interventions that may help you overcome them. (more…)

How to be intentionally Happier, a book to help

Happier

The sub-title of this book is “Can you learn to be happy?” and this question is explored through a series of short chapters summarising the most popular course at Harvard today.

This might seem a strange topic for this blog, but my coaching work with customer insight leaders has taught me the power of Positive Psychology. It is also a short (168 pages) book, fun and very accessible; so a good compliment to some of the weightier tomes that I’ve reviewed here. (more…)

How to create a culture of action in your Customer Insight team

culture of action

Whilst debating the relative merits of different metrics, I’ve been reminded of the importance of a culture of action within teams.

That debate was sparked by my recent post, encouraging those implementing Customer Effort Score programmes to learn the lessons of what happened with NPS (i.e. don’t waste time arguing over metrics). Ironically this then prompted comments debating the relative merits of NPS, CES or CSat as metrics.

But it’s always good to get comments and debate going, so I’ve enjoyed the ensuing conversation here and on Customer Think blog. Whilst debating there, on the relative importance of metrics versus action, I’ve been reminded of the importance of creating a customer insight team culture which drives action.

Over a decade of creating and leading insight teams has taught me that two aspects of team culture are critical for customer insight teams to make a real difference to the wider business.

One is collaboration between the different technical discipline (to deliver holistic customer insights), the other is action-orientation, galvanizing the team behind a vision of driving change in the real world. This goes beyond delivery of technical analysis or Powerpoint, to focus on the decision & action needed to deliver commercial results and improved experiences as judged by your customers. (more…)