forestIn a report titled, “The Digital Universe Decade – Are You Ready?” EMC stated that in 2010 alone, 1.2 zettabytes of digital information was created. This is equal to:

  • The digital information created by every man, woman, and child on Earth “Tweeting” continuously for 100 years
  • 75 billion fully-loaded 16 GB Apple iPads (which would fill the entire area of Wembley Stadium to the brim 41 times)
  • A full-length episode of FOX TV’s “24″ running continuously for 125 million years

And as this forest of data grows, so does the technology available to measure and manage it, and the effects are overwhelming. In “Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds,” Scott Berkun shares an example of a broken down Winnebago spiraling out of control at 95mp and the driver asking the passengers where they would like to stop for dinner. He writes,

As ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it happens all the time. People worry about the wrong thing at the wrong time and apply their intelligence in ways that doesn’t serve whatever they’re trying to achieve. Some call this wisdom, in that the wise know what to be thinking about, where as the merely intelligent only know how to think.

In our customer and employee experience work we are seeing many business leaders exhausted with business intelligence. It’s not difficult to collect satisfaction surveys and come up with good ideas on how to improve the quality of delivered experiences. The difficulty lies in sorting through that data and finding what your customers care about most, and then focusing attention on those items. Here are three ways we are seeing customer experience leaders navigate the forest of data, to find the insights that drive change:

1. Moving past the “ultimate metric”

Customer satisfaction scores, NPS, even our own Engagement Metric – REAP, have dominated the customer and employee experience scene. These numbers are valuable and useful but can be limiting. While these metrics can tell you if you improved and by how much, they can’t tell how, and most importantly, they can’t tell you why. Many leaders are taking an increased interest in looking at the behaviors, experiences, or interactions that impact shifts in the ultimate metric.

2. Aligning around a set of core metrics

Key driver analysis allows leaders to see into the ultimate metric. If your ultimate score has decreased, looking at your key drivers will offer insight into why this happened, and clearly define the items most in need of attention.

For many of our clients, we set up models of their drivers. These models provide a set of core metrics that an organization can rally around. In quarterly reporting, we will walk through changes in these drivers and use customer comments to bring the drivers to life. This practice allows business leaders to truly understand the customer experience ecosystem.

3. Improved ability to ignore extraneous data

As our clients begin seeing results based on taking action on the drivers, many of them are increasingly ok with not wasting time on the extraneous data. Typical “satisfaction” questions around things like cleanliness and hold times are often axed as leaders see the value in forgoing the 70 page report for a 1 page summary that can be shared across the company. Because once there is unity on what to think about, it is often clear how best to approach the problem.

The next few years are only going to bring more data. Leaders will feel a rising pressure to measure and manage everything that can possibly be measured. But the winner will not be the person with the most data; the winner will be the one with the wisdom to know what to think about. And by tuning out all of the data noise, will be receptive to hearing the piece of insight that matters most.

Additional Resources:

Taking Action on Customer Feedback

An Effective Treatment Plan for the Average Customer Experience

Photo courtesy of: Dan