customer insights

Customer Insights Strategy: What It Is & Is Not

by Jenny on March 17, 2023 Comments Off on Customer Insights Strategy: What It Is & Is Not

There is SO MUCH we can learn about our customers by gathering direct feedback. Reaching out and initiating conversation provides customer insights to see things from their perspective, check in on brand performance, and identify ways to strengthen our product/service offerings. We can also go beyond any business-related topics to gain a deeper understanding of who our customers are as unique individuals. What are their big-picture or day-to-day thoughts, feelings, goals, and challenges? The areas we can cover with direct feedback is virtually limitless.

But, with all those possibilities, it’s easy to lose focus and become disjointed in our efforts. Too often we see brands launch ad-hoc, one-time feedback projects on a “need to know” basis. A question pops up internally – whether related to sales, marketing, experiences, or any other business topic – and feedback research is conducted in search of short-term answers. While feedback research is the right idea, conducting sporadic and isolated surveys with a short-term mindset can lead to more questions and missed opportunities.

Maximizing the impact of customer feedback doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by asking the right people the right questions at the right time. It happens by efficiently and effectively leveraging customer feedback to guide brand development initiatives. It happens by keeping efforts interconnected and consistent over time where feedback projects follow a common thread and build in value from one to the next. In other words, it happens by crafting a Customer Insights Strategy that serves as a framework for how feedback is gathered and applied.

For over 35 years, we’ve been partnering with brands to get the most impact and value from the feedback they gather. And the first thing we do is discuss Customer Insights Strategies. Throughout that time working with clients of all sizes and across a variety of industries, we’ve found the most common scenario is that people are unsure of what “Customer Insights Strategy” means. What does it entail? How is it done? Where is the best place to start?

Luckily, most brands are already taking the actions and have the mindset needed for a Customer Insights Strategy. The pieces are all there. It’s just a matter of fitting those pieces together and completing the strategy puzzle. That’s where we come in and optimize their current efforts with a few tweaks and adjustments. Through our experiences, we’ve also found that sometimes the most helpful approach isn’t explaining what a Customer Insights Strategy is, but rather discussing what it is not. By addressing common missteps and pitfalls, we can highlight current gaps and outline how closing even the smallest gaps can make a big difference.

With that in mind, I’d like to address a few misperceptions and misunderstandings we often see in the world of customer insights.

Conducting multiple surveys does not constitute a Customer Insights Strategy.

Many brands blur the line between research and strategy. Clients bring us in to refine or polish their Insights Strategy, but we find a series of individual research projects that are missing cohesion and alignment. This is not to diminish or discredit their efforts, but rather it is an honest assessment of where things stand regarding their customer feedback approach. We are always thrilled when a brand prioritizes customer feedback and is willing to invest in giving their audience a voice. By connecting a few dots and filling a few gaps, small steps lead to big leaps in overall impact.

The most effective Customer Insights Strategies are clean and simple.

A common misunderstanding is that insights strategies need to be complex and complicated to be effective. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That said, it can be challenging to boil down and simplify broad, wide-ranging objectives such as increasing customer satisfaction or strengthening marketing effectiveness. The goal is to map a clear plan of action based on specific, measurable objectives. By identifying and trimming efforts that are not inching you closer to your goals, we maximize efficiency and redirect energy toward results-oriented projects. When everyone can visualize and understand how one step leads to the next, then results application process will be efficient and effective.

Internal efforts are strengthened, not disrupted, by external support.

As the inclusion of customer insights when making big decisions becomes increasingly mainstream, brands are investing more to develop their own internal customer insights teams. This is great to see and incredibly beneficial to the brands who are making that investment. But as we all know and have experienced ourselves, internal teams have a max capacity. Especially with something like customer insights, everyone wants a piece of the action. When every department is submitting requests and asking for reports, it can be overwhelming.

This is why external strategic support is helpful, not disruptive. While it may feel like hiring a third-party is unnecessary considering investments are already being made internally, the truth is adding outside support often increases return on that internal investment. When demand is high for individual projects from varied departments, the overall strategic vision can quickly become an afterthought. Having an extra set of hands and eyes keeping all the pieces together not only strengthens overall impact, it improves efficiency and accelerates success timelines.

Many of our clients bring us in to work alongside and collaborate with their existing insights team. Our purpose is to alleviate stress and address big-picture, strategic initiatives. In doing so, our clients regain balance, alignment, and overall focus. Whether it’s high-level strategies or ground-level tactical support, there’s a MacKenzie solution to fit your every need. So, if you’re looking to strengthen the impact of your current feedback efforts, we’d love a chance to show you what we got! Let us know when you’re ready to get the conversation started.


Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

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