CX – Good People can’t Overcome Bad Data

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My wife and I took a long-overdue vacation to Mexico, and stayed at an ocean-side resort over the holidays. At check-in, the desk attendant told us they would upgrade us to an ocean-side room for free. Great! We were looking forward to having a nice view. Five minutes later, he came back saying, “I’m sorry. It turns out the room is already occupied.” The result? While rationally we ended up the same, emotionally we were disappointed that we lost the opportunity for the ocean-side view. Bad data made a worse customer experience.

Similarly, a local retailer recently sent me a gift card. Since we moved this summer, I gave him my new address, which he entered into the system. Unfortunately, the old data prevailed, and it was sent to the old house; it still hasn’t arrived.



Bad data isn’t just an issue with B2C companies. We also updated HoC’s address with a client. Unfortunately, the multitude of disconnected address fields in their system meant that the payment system used the wrong address, sending the check to the old location.

Lastly, we just wrapped up a project with a global client to map their availability and delivery journey. In an interview, one of their customers shared a story where they were awaiting a product shipment needed to keep their manufacturing lines running. Our client’s CSR told them they could expect the shipment the following day. Three hours later, she had to sheepishly call back to say that not only will the shipment not be there the next day, but the product was on a different continent altogether.

These were all situations where bad data overcame the efforts of good staff. I don’t know about the front desk person, but the gift card sender has been with the company for ten years, and the client’s CSR has served this customer for five. Even the best people can’t help when they don’t have the right information.

How much time do you spend ensuring the quality of your data? If you’re like most CX leaders, probably not enough. The Forbes article, “The Importance of Data Quality – Good, Bad or Ugly” quotes KPMG’s 2016 Global CEO Outlook, stating “84% of CEOs are concerned about the quality of the data they’re basing decisions on.” If your CEO is concerned about data quality, shouldn’t you be?

Service Objects quotes a 2017 Talend survey of CIOs, stating “data quality and data governance remain the biggest concerns of IT departments, at 33 and 37 percent respectively – and yet their top priorities reflect more trendy objectives such as big data and real-time analytics.” CIOs recognize the risk of the bad data – but we’re too focused on sexier topics to address the blocking and tackling needed for an improved experience. What will happen when you build your big data and real-time analytics, but base them off bad data? More bad experiences.



Part of the reason we don’t focus on data is that it doesn’t directly show up in surveys, but it may be there indirectly. I didn’t trash the resort in their survey, but others might. That said, how many would write, “the front desk person was very helpful, but the quality of data in your systems resulted in a negative emotional outcome at the first moment of truth.” Honestly, probably only I would write that. A normal customer would say the front desk person overpromised and underdelivered. How many bad customer experiences are created by bad data, but never get categorized that way?

The takeaway: Talk with your CIO to discuss the relationship between data quality and customer experience, and see if she has a concern about the current state. If so, you may create more positive customer impact by fixing this than focusing training on how to deal with the results of bad data.

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