Insights into customer insight

In a relatively short period of time the role of the customer insight department has changed; from answering questions we might want to know about our customers to knowing which questions you should be asking in the first place. Databases are great at determining 'who' and 'what'. What they don't tell you is 'why' and 'what if', which is where real customer insight comes from.

Insight can be defined as an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding. This viewpoint resonates with Kahneman's ideas about the predominance of right brain thinking in humans. Humans' successful evolution was based on thousands of years of right brain instinctive judgements and it has some great strengths. It's highly sensitive to environmental cues, signs of danger etc., but due to its fast thinking, it also has severe weaknesses for today's more complex decisions. This 'system 1' as Kahneman calls it, simplifies, jumps to conclusions and is subject to irrational biases.

So, how well placed is the customer insight industry in identifying this system 1 thinking? Professor of Consumer Marketing, Vince Mitchell, plots the five levels of customer experience and considers how consistently high quality customer insights can be driven throughout a business till they attain the highest level.

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