Operationalizing Your Customer Data


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Critical to improving the customer experience is listening to customers and incorporating their data and their feedback into your transformation strategy. Data-driven decisions are key to customer experience transformation success.

There are many different customer listening posts and equally as many sources of customer data. Let’s start with some examples of listening posts, which provide not only performance data but also demographic, psychographic, diagnostic, and competitive benchmarks data:

  • Transactional surveys are post-interaction, e.g., after a purchase or after a customer service call, and allow companies to get real-time feedback about the experience at key touchpoints.
  • Relationship surveys are higher-level listening opportunities that provide the company with a look at the overall health of the relationship with the customer.
  • Online communities provide opportunities to have ongoing conversations with customers about topics that are important to the business and to the customer. They can be used for experience feedback, product design, and more.
  • Customer advisory boards are another way that companies can get direct feedback about not only overall performance but also specific product needs and product design.
  • Online reviews and other social media are listening posts not under the control of the brand but are another way that customers can provide their feedback to fellow customers. These are powerful tools that allow for customer-to-customer sharing of brand experiences.
  • Voice of the customer through the employee is an important way to get feedback from your customers at various person-to-person touchpoints. Your frontline employees talk to customers all day long; by providing employees with a tool to capture customers’ thoughts and emotions, you can incorporate valuable customer insight into continuous improvement efforts.

Customer data also comes in many forms. Examples of customer behavioral data, most likely from your CRM systems, include:

  • Transaction data
  • Interaction data
  • Financial (profitability, CLV, etc.) data

At a high level, data gives us greater confidence in decision making, which helps to expedite change throughout the organization. More tactically, it creates a common view of customers, allows for customization and personalization of the experience, and improves consistency across channels, among a variety of other benefits – for both customers and the organization.

I just mentioned a wealth of data sources, but here’s the problem: it’s everywhere. Think about it. You’ve got data in survey platforms, CRM systems, legacy systems, disparate systems, systems that came with mergers and acquisitions, and more. The most daunting task is to get all of this valuable data into a single place to be accessed by analysts who will glean insight from it.

Start with finding it all. Inventory it. And then bring it together into a data lake or a data warehouse for easier access. I won’t go any further on either of those topics. They’re above my pay grade!

Why do we need this? Why is it important?

Centralizing the data certainly makes it easier to analyze it and to create that 360-degree view of the customer, giving CX professionals the opportunity to design a better experience – one that’s personalized, customized, seamless, and hopefully effortless. This is what customers are asking/looking for!

To further facilitate that 360-degree view and to help the business better understand customer needs, you’ll need to analyze, synthesize, and socialize the data. In other words, it’s time to make sense of it, glean some insights, tell the story of the data, and get it out to the right people at the right time so that they can deliver the experience that customers expect.

Analysis takes many forms because there will be many different types of data to make sense of. You’ll need a way to crosstab, predict, identify key drivers, and prioritize improvements with survey data; mine and analyze your unstructured data; and track, review, and prioritize social media inputs and influencers. You’ll conduct linkage analysis to link customer and employee data, customer feedback with operational metrics, and all data to financial measures. And you’ll need to conduct a root cause analysis to understand the why behind it all.

Once data has been broken down and analyzed for better understanding, it is most useful for the end user when transformed into insights. Put all the pieces of the analysis together to tell a story, to put it into context for those who need to act on it – a story that can be easily understood and translated into a better customer experience.

Next, you’ll need to socialize the insights. Those insights and their corresponding stories must be shared across the organization and in such a way that people know what to do with it. Insights and resultant recommendations must get into the hands of the right people who will do something with them.

And finally, you must operationalize the data. Create action plans, assign owners, outline metrics and accountability, and implement your customer experience improvements. Then close the loop on your own change management process: track and measure your efforts in order to maintain a continuous improvement cycle. And don’t forget to close the loop with your employees and customers. Employees must be trained on the new experience they will be delivering, and customers should be informed about the changes to let them know their feedback was heard and used – and to properly set expectations about the experience going forward.

Know this: Insights without action are just expensive trivia!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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