There has been a great deal written about how we now live in a 'post-truth' era where facts and 'alternative facts' battle for mind-share.
We're certainly in an age of information overload, where everyone has the ability to broadcast their opinions, and in which our multi-screening attention spans have been observed to have reduced to that of a goldfish*.
When it comes to crafting strategy, it's vital to be able to separate facts, data and observations from opinions before you can begin to glean insights, from which you may derive real value.
With attention span in mind, some concise definitions:
- Facts are information based on real occurrences; something that is actually the case.
- Statistics are used to summarise data from studies that generate numerical data.
- Observations are statements based on something one has seen, heard or noticed.
- Opinions are views or judgements formed individually or collectively about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
- Insights are descriptions of cause and effect based on identification of relationships and behaviours within a specific context
Insights are gleaned through interrogating and analysing data, facts and observations.
Customer insights are formed when we connecting empathically with customers' contextual needs and wants, enabling us to move from understanding ‘what happened’ to understanding ‘what does it mean’.
Customer insights - together with market and trend insights - are the foundation of competitive advantage. They help tell the story of the target audience, allow us to identify areas of opportunity and serve as the strategic foundation for ideas and the filters for the design process: through solving for real and valuable customer issues, you assure the development of valuable propositions.
There are no shortcuts to deriving genuine customer insights. Customers don't always do what they say. As with animals, if you want to observe real behaviour, you go to the jungle, not to the zoo.
Where focus groups once sufficed, in today's ultra-competitive landscape, the value of ethnographic research, the foundation to human centred design, is now widely acknowledged. It takes methods such as contextual enquiry, fly-on-the-wall observation and immersion together with interviews to get to the heart of customer behaviour.
Apply creative minds to the interrogation of observed customer behaviours and stories, and the analysis of big data, and you have the ingredients to develop powerful insights.