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Show the C-suite the business impact of customer relationships: 3 ways to calculate ROI

Calculating the ROI of ongoing customer engagement is easier than you think. The key is to follow practical frameworks that tie the insight you get from customer relationships to measurable business results.

At Summit, three customer-led companies shared how they are making ROI measurement a reality. The session featured Lindsey Colella, associate director of insights integration at Sun Life Financial, Eileen Chen, consumer insights specialist at Keurig Canada, and Emily Driscoll, insight executive from Bauer Media UK.

Based on the examples provided by the speakers, here are three feasible ways of determining the business impact of customer intelligence.

Track your functional ROI

Ongoing customer engagement results to higher research output and lower expenses. Single-serve coffee manufacturer Keurig Canada, for example, tested 12 product concepts in its insight community Coffee Insiders, gathering more than 5,000 customer responses over four rounds of concept testing. Consumer feedback informed numerous aspects of the product’s marketing campaign, including its final packaging, tagline and logo. If outsourced to a research agency, the study would have cost $150,000, according to Chen, and would have come with limitations in the number of concepts that could be tested. Today, Keurig Canada is able to engage with consumers twice a week, getting insight more quickly than ever before.

Colella shared a similar example, noting that insurance provider Sun Life Financial has saved approximately $850,000 in research costs since establishing its insight community in 2015.

Calculate the opportunity

Showing your direct impact to revenue is the most straightforward but also a more challenging way of showing ROI. But Bauer Media, an entertainment network of iconic, multi-platform brands, has figured out a way of doing that. Driscoll revealed that the company’s insight community called The Inside Panel plays a significant role in driving new revenue opportunities. The company engages more than 9,000 UK-based consumers in the community, gaining a better understanding of its audiences and informing how the brands that Bauer Media works with shape their content.

Today, data and insight from The Inside Panel appear in over 70% of the company’s sales pitches.

The company uses feedback from the community to show potential clients that it has more knowledge than competitors, revealed Driscoll. Today, data and insight from The Inside Panel appear in over 70% of the company’s sales pitches. In fact, the insight community has contributed to the biggest pitches that Bauer Media has won. Driscoll estimates that in the film vertical alone, The Inside Panel has brought a large percentage of film pitches in the last seven months.

Reduce risks

In today’s business landscape, speed equals time, and time means money. The speakers agreed that having real-time access to thousands of consumers has accelerated the time it takes to make customer-led decisions while reducing the risk of launching campaigns and products that fail in the market.

“For us, ROI equals speed,” said Chen. Keurig’s insight community allows the company to beat competitors to market with products and campaigns that have been vetted by customer feedback. Studies that took four months in the past now takes less than six weeks—and the results are richer and more robust. Chen said Keurig Canada’s time-to-market is now six months less than before as a result of having an insight community.

Similarly, Bauer Media’s insight community has enabled the company to reduce risk for advertisers. One of the community’s biggest benefits, according to Driscoll, is the ability to help advertisers be more effective and launch successful campaigns, which help the company retain business and increase deal size.

ROI means adoption—and more advocates

Leveraging the deep customer relationships they’ve built with their community members, the speakers have won advocates for their insight community in their company.

At Keurig, for instance, the company’s brand management has spoken highly of the insight community, describing it as “an exceptional tool for us to get a quick, reliable and extremely helpful reading from our customers, prospects and competitive targets.”

As for Sun Life Financial, Colella said some of the insight community’s biggest fans include executives from the company’s stop-loss product, a type of insurance for companies that self-fund their medical plans. In a recent company-wide announcement, the company’s VP of stop-loss said insight communities and listening to the customer voice are now part of the department’s strategic planning road map.

As these companies show, calculating the ROI of customer relationships isn’t rocket science. It’s not always easy either, but the time you put in to understand your community’s impact to the bottom line is time well spent since it leads to more adoption and opens more opportunities to influence company-wide strategies.