From Consumer Insights to Impact: Using Data to Better Serve Customers
Data is phenomenal at helping companies innovate, evolve, and advance. However, data fails to provide meaningful insight into a client base unless it’s combined with a diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused approach. In today’s world, consumer insights extend beyond basic research to include customers’ opinions, beliefs, and values, which businesses can use to assess the needs and desires of their clientele.
Last month, Open to All hosted a discussion featuring corporate leaders from DICK’S Sporting Goods, LVMH, and Sephora. This panel outlined how to collect and apply customer data to create more welcoming retail environments. These three partners identified useful techniques for combining diversity and inclusion initiatives with data analytics to improve client experiences, marketing and branding opportunities, and employee relations.
By sharing feedback, customers give companies the opportunity to restore their confidence and support. Failure to respond effectively may result in losing a customer for good. According to Sephora’s Racial Bias in Retail study, two in five shoppers have experienced unfair treatment based on their race or skin color. Out of those clients, 70% elected not to report the incident(s) to the retailer, and over 40% of clients claim they are unlikely to visit any of the retailers’ locations again.
Following these findings, the company designed a digital dashboard to monitor racial bias complaints submitted in stores or posted on social media platforms. To learn more from all their visitors, Sephora piloted non-purchaser surveys at store exits. The dashboard also tracks training compliance, allowing Sephora to spot a trend in which locations with a higher percentage of trained employees have fewer racial bias issues.
When working cross-departmentally, consumer insights departments uncover barriers to access, and DEI teams work to close these gaps. Take, for example, DICK’S Sporting Goods, which recently recognized the need to involve more athletes of color in golf, a sport dominated by white men.
Several focus groups helped the company discover why golf appears so unapproachable, specifically for BIPOC athletes, which led to DICK’S implementing initiatives to make golf more accessible. Their focus groups also revealed a need to improve supplier diversity by stocking more Black-owned brands on their shelves. Adding a DEI lens to data collection allows businesses to not only collect comments and criticisms, but also respond to them.
Once companies have established systems to capture and retain customer feedback, this information can be used to better serve employees. Consumer insight can provide a powerful perspective on what additional tools staff members need to provide the best possible customer experience. Businesses can also use these data to determine what topic areas team members need training on, such as mitigating racial bias or serving clients with disabilities.
In today’s age of social media, consumer insights extend far beyond the in-store experiences of shoppers. Customers are viewing, and even purchasing items, on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Following the need to infiltrate the e-commerce sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, LVMH dove deep into the science behind how algorithms attract audiences, later using these data to authentically advertise through digital mediums. Social media sites became key pieces in the selling and storytelling of LVMH products. The company even used their customers to identify the right brands, influencers, and micro-ambassadors to promote their products.
As we speak of massive social media campaigns, industry-wide studies, and cross-departmental projects, it’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. In fact, you may already be collecting the data that you’re looking for! Companies can scrub their pre- and post-purchase surveys, store reviews, and social media comments for keywords related to the client experience. As you’re starting out, it’s critical to engage key stakeholders; thankfully, there are many ways to do so, including hosting focus groups, tracking transactions, distributing surveys, and viewing social media analytics.
Whether you’re a beginner in the customer insights space or a long-time professional, the learnings from this research can greatly contribute to a business’s core diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies.