Superficially, customer insight is “the collection, deployment and interpretation of information that allows a business to acquire, develop and retain their customers.” “Superficially?” Yes. The pursuit of customer insight tends to generate a heavy investment in market research. And yet, relatively few businesses actually have customer insight (noun – the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing). How will market research help you understand why less elementary school aged children take up the hobby of fishing these days (note: once they get “hooked” it tends to be a lifelong hobby, thus lifelong customers)? By the way, the answer is not video games.

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding

I’m not against market research. In fact, I love it! It’s just not always the best insight tool. You can always bolster market research with armies of anthropologists and swarms of sociologists to help with new product/service design, innovation initiatives or a business model overhaul. Even before that, I suggest adopting a “customer perspective.” Try to view your business through your customers’ eyes.

Which set of questions best describe your view of customers?

Interestingly, your view of customers will ultimately have a strong influence on their view of you.

In Other Words…

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”  ― Peter F. Drucker

“Be a surfer. Watch the ocean. Figure out where the big waves are breaking and adjust accordingly.”  ― 37 Signals, Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Web Application

“**New business concepts are always, always the product of lucky foresight.**
That’s right – the essential insight doesn’t come out of any dirigiste planning process; it comes form some cocktail of happenstance, desire, curiosity, ambition and need. But at the end of the day, there has to be a degree of foresight — a sense of where new riches lie. So radical innovation is always one part fortuity and one part clearheaded vision. ― Gary Hamel, Leading the Revolution: How to Thrive in Turbulent Times by Making Innovation a Way of Life, [first-line bold by author], p.23

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” ― Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man

“Many products fail because companies develop them from the wrong perspective. Companies focus too much on what they want to sell their customers, rather than what those customers really need. What’s missing is empathy: a deep understanding of what problems customers are trying to solve.” – Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life

In The Word…

“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” – Proverbs 15:14