Vision Critical provides a cloud-based customer intelligence platform that is designed to enable companies to build engaged customer communities. The vendor’s products include insight communities in which companies gain feedback from their customers and stakeholders, a creation tool that uses customer and employee ideas to innovate new products, and North American general population panels. The vendor has won numerous awards, including the Gold award for Most Customer-Friendly Company of the Year in the 2013 Best in Biz Awards International Competition. 
 
Recently, Loyalty360 sat down with Erin Avery, Vice President of Product Marketing at Vision Critical, to discuss data strategies and techniques to improve revenue.
 
Avery summarized Vision Critical’s position in the market. “Most brands do a pretty good job of listening to their customers, but only about 30 to 40 percent of brands take what they hear from customers and spread it out across their business and use the data to act, to improve their products and services. Here’s where things get a little dicey, though. Only about 5 percent of brands actually go back to their customers and say, ‘Hey, we listened. We heard you. We took that data and spread it across our business and here’s how your feedback impacted what we do.’ What we stand for is helping our brands proactively understand their customers and understand how those customers want to be served.”
 
She added, “By engaging customers proactively, we can help brands unlock a better way to serve their customers. Ultimately, we hope to create an opted-in community or group of deeply profiled, highly engaged people.”
 
Avery illustrated her company’s mission with a personal anecdote. “I like to tell a story about a particular hotel brand that I stay with. I travel quite a bit, and I love this brand because I love their loyalty and their points. Every time I stay there, they send me a survey. They always start the survey by asking, ‘Are you a man or a woman? When were you born?’ This is really starting to get frustrating because, the reality is, they have all that data about me. They should be building on the data that they know, and this hit a boiling point a couple of months ago. At checkout, I took a survey, and everything about it was just awful. They were asking me things they should already know, and question number ten, they asked, ‘Are you married?’ I got mad, really mad, because 10 years ago to the month, my husband and I actually held our wedding reception at one of their properties. So why didn’t they ask a better question, like, ‘Are you still married?’ In that moment, they actually disrupted the customer journey by asking a really stupid question.”
 
The point, Avery said, is that “every time you touch a customer, you are either building their loyalty or you’re detracting from it.” Vision Critical’s strategy is to make sure that its clients’ actions do the former, not the latter. This is what the company’s platform is designed to do.
 
Avery offered two success stories as proof of Vision Critical’s credibility. “One brand kept coming upon this six-month subscription wall,” she said. “Most of their customers were dropping out after this trial period, and they just couldn’t crack the code of this problem. What they ended up discovering is that they were so successful at selling the goods and services they were selling that their customers were running out of closet space, literally. They were doing such a good job of selling that their customers weren’t returning anything. So, the customers were completely maxed out and just canceled the service. The point is, don’t be embarrassed to ask questions and to find data that you can use to do your job better.”
 
She also focused on the growth another client was able to initiate. “An Australian partner of ours used our platform to figure out all the ways their customers like to eat one of their food products, and basically they drove over $104 million in revenue in two years in a completely saturated market. They took this very mature piece of their business in a different direction and reinvigorated this category by simply asking people about it.” It isn’t surprising, then, that Vision Critical has been recognized with so many awards.

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