Rethinking Customer Insights To Drive Growth For SMEs

In NZ and Australia, SME’s now make up over 90% of industry and will be the main source of new jobs in the future.

Business expert Tom Peters in his most recent book “The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide”, cited SME’s as the secret backbone to the new economy. In NZ and Australia, SME’s now make up over 90% of industry and will be the main source of new jobs in the future.

‘To deal with the technology forces descending upon us, we need the energy, verve, imagination and artistry’ that are the hallmark of entrepreneurial small to medium enterprise.

Yet, SMEs face unique challenges due to their size and stretched resources. Managing the day-to-day running of the business leaves SMEs little time to prepare for the future and explore how they can operate leaner, scale or attract new customers (or keep the current ones). It is this lack of foresight that can lead to poor decision making and reactionist behaviour.

Having been in the customer insights sector for over 15 years and had the privilege of working with some inspiring, fast-growing SMEs, I know the positive impact that better customer and market understanding can have on the future success of a business.

Why is customer insight so important?

  • Decisions are made less on assumptions and gut feel
  • Can reveal potential gaps in the market
  • Help you grow brand loyalty
  • You can track customer satisfaction
  • Be able to personalise the customer experience and your communications

But accessing this customer insight can be challenging for SMEs in many ways. In his recent AUT Master’s thesis, my former colleague Vishal Ponnappa discovered the following assumptions when asking NZ-based SMEs about accessing customer and market information.

  • It is cost prohibitive
  • We don’t have the right internal expertise to action insights
  • I am unsure of where to start or what questions to ask
  • It feels overwhelming
  • There are too many other fires to put out
  • It is time consuming and I need results now

“Market research could be my best friend if his first name was ROI.” —Every SME/Marketer ever

It appears that market research as an industry will encounter challenges in the future unless research solutions can be tailored to the needs of SMEs. At present, most market research principles are based on large business scenarios and there is a need to reshape such thinking in order to service SMEs. (Venkatesan & Soutar, 2011)

Introducing Insight Exchange

In response to the need for more flexible customer research solutions, we are excited to announce the beta launch of Insight Exchange. Insight Exchange is an online market akin to Commtract or Expert360 but facilitates the connection between brands and global customer insights specialists. Nichola Quail is the Founder and CEO of Insight Exchange.

“Our vision is to make customer insights accessible to progressive brands and marketers looking to drive real change in their business.”

If you are a brand, marketer, insights specialist or interested in customer insights and would like to learn more about Insight Exchange, simply click HERE.