London police turn insight into action

On the way to watch England play rugby against Italy at Twickenham recently I came across a great example of turning insight into action. It came from an unexpected source: London's Metropolitan Police.

I was due to meet my mate Frank for a pre-match beer or two in a Twickenham pub called the Barmy Arms. But I'd forgotten my iPhone at home, and so had no map to find my way there.

I spotted a policewoman and asked her if she knew where the pub was. She smiled, gave me a specially created Metropolitan Police pub map and pointed out the Barmy Arms on it. She saved the day, ensuring pre-match beer and banter, and gave me the idea for this blog post.

Here's some learning:

1. Have your insight "radar" turned on

Lots of great insights, or even most of them, don't come from asking consumers what they they want. Rather, insight comes from having your "radar" turned on to pick up opportunities. If I had been put in a Metropolitan Police focus group and asked what I wanted from them on rugby match day, I doubt I would have suggested the idea of pub maps.

However, I bet that on match day policemen and women were often asked the way to the pub by fans who'd got lost. The key was that some bright spark had their radar on and picked up on this very important consumer need.

2. Be close the the frontline

In a service business like the police, getting insight can be helped by being close to the frontline, on the lookout for opportunities to solve problems or make life better for customers. For example, Tesco do this with a programme called TWIST: "Together working in store". This requires every senior manager to spend one week a year working in a Tesco store, on a check-out, re-stocking shelves or in a distribition centre for example.

In a consumer goods business, insight could come from bothering to read the letters sent in by consumers or emails to your consumer fan club.

3. Frontline insight is free

The great thing about insight from the frontline is that its free as you don't have to commision expensive research. You just need to get closer to the customer in your everyday job.

4. Turn insight into action

The best bit of my story about the Met is the solution of the pub map. Its one thing to have an insight from being close to the front-line. But this insight has no value unless you do something about it and turn it into action.

In conclusion, why not work with your team to get close to the frontline, insight radar turned on. Hunt for some nuggets of insight and see if you can turn one of them into an action to help grow your brand and business.