Customer Insight: at the heart of decision making

Graduate Alistair tells us more about what Customer Insight is and the benefit it brings

Alistair Mak

Ok. I admit it. I didn’t really understand what an “Insight” department did before I joined British Gas. In my mind I had images of statisticians using various models, refining them, and then refining them again, just for the sake of it. And while there are statisticians here, there are many other skill sets that are vital to our success. And yes, there are various statistical and economic models being used, but there are many members of our team who are much more focused on customer research. All of this work is for one purpose – doing what is right for the customer.

Customer Insight is a department that help us understand what current and potential customers want, and how they would like it presented to them. The next time you see a British Gas advert on the TV, Customer Insight will have helped shape it – we have tested customer responses to that advert, against many others, to see which one the public find the most interesting. If you receive a British Gas leaflet through your letter box, ask yourself – has this gone to everyone in the country? It is likely that it hasn’t, so why have you received it? Why is it designed in the way that it is? Does it lead on price, or does it focus on our service? These are all questions that the Customer Insight department will have helped answer, before it was printed.

Whilst the knowledge and understanding of our customers within Customer Insight influences the vast majority of the advertising that you see, it is important to recognise that this is not enough on its own. That is why our team work very closely with our Marketing team, both of whom play a pivotal role in creating an advertising campaign that the public like, and find interesting. We also work very closely with the Propositions team, to help create offers and products that our customers truly want, and see real value in. The reach of Customer Insight across British Gas is constantly growing, and I have only mentioned two of many possible examples here.

The ambition of the Customer Insight department here is to bring the customer to the heart of decision making, across all of British Gas. The team I am a part of lead studies of the markets that British Gas are a part of and all of this knowledge helps us make decisions that are for the customers’ benefit.

So what is “Insight”? I hear the term being mis-used quite often, but to me “Insight” is knowledge that is not obvious, but can be gained through analysisof our markets, and conversations with our customers, which then helps us make decisions to the benefit of our customers. I am confident that a career with Customer Insight will prove very valuable in coming years, especially as we can see that the concept of big data is becoming more popular, and the issue of privacy of data is moving to the forefront of many customers’ minds.