Our latest POV on how customer experience drives everything from concept and creative to design and technology

Driving Insights Into Action

By Jim Bass, Director Customer Experience

One of the most effective ways to cultivate customer loyalty is to take action on their feedback.

…but it’s always an easy thing to do. In today’s world of technology, social media and big data the volume of customer feedback and its metadata can be overwhelming. Sometimes just deciding on where to start can create analysis paralysis and a feeling of “drowning in data”. This leads to inaction. To be successful in taking action on customer feedback, it’s important to keep moving. Before the data can be used it needs to be translated into actionable insights, and then the business leaders need to buy-in to taking action.

Take an inventory of all the data points and listening posts and categorize them.

Customers can share their perspectives, suggestions, and experience in different formats and from a variety of channels. For example, over a two-week period one customer could complete a survey, tweet about their experience on social media, participate in a product advisory board, send an email escalating an issue to a senior leader, share concerns in a quarterly business review meeting, and make a suggestion on a phone call to a service representative.

Identify the “not so obvious” areas where experience data lives.

The touch points above are some obvious places to look for customer feedback, but there are some more subtle places to find it as well. During this time period, the same customer also contacted service/support 5 times a month, reported several product defects and made suggestions for product enhancements. The company’s CRM has the details of the service engagements and defects. The sales team is tracking the enhancements and working with product management to deliver them. Also, this customer’s experience on the company website is tracked by IT. This data can be a goldmine of experience information such as how often does the customer visit the site, which self-service topics and products are being searched, and how much time does it take to find what they are looking for, or to complete a task.

Translate the data into actionable insights that tell a story.

Think about it… all of that data covered just a few weeks of experience for only one customer. Data by itself, though, is not insight. Aggregate the data for all customers over a meaningful timeframe. Depending on the volume and business, 90 days of data may be more than adequate; for others, 90 days may not be enough. Analyze the aggregate data to identify trends, themes and draw attribution. Is the data telling a story? When the story emerges, the insight is born. What action does the insight require? What is the “ah-ha”?

Driving insight into action is a skillset that organizations need to develop and hone.

It all begins with having a common understanding or definition of what an insight is. In a recent virtual conference Diane Magers CCXP defined insight as “the capacity to take a true but often hidden, complex situation and realize a fresh and unexpected perspective enabling you to solve a human problem.” This is the “ah-ha” moment. Note: Diane describes several real life examples of brands who brought insight to life by taking action. Be sure to click the YouTube link below to get real examples and experience from Diane Magers, Brett Sharp and me on this topic of driving insights into action.

No matter how data-driven an organization is, driving insights into action is not easy.

I learned the hard way that sharing the insights alone doesn’t create action. To get leaders to seriously consider taking action we need to get their attention by connecting the insights to their heartstrings as well as the purse strings.

Connect the insight to business goals and outcomes.

Start by focusing on the top 1-3 key insights that, if acted upon, will have the most impact on the goals and metrics the executives and leaders are already trying to achieve. Enhance the insight by describing it in terms of their impact on financial results like cost, revenue and profit, or on key metrics like retention, NPS, CSAT, etc. For example, when I worked at McKesson we had a common complaint which resulted in a lengthy service engagement. No matter how many times customers mentioned this problem in our relationship surveys and escalations, we couldn’t get the business to address it. Eventually, I connected the issue to a monetary cost to the organization. Each service ticket cost the service and support teams $400 and the problem happened 500 times a year. If we fixed this problem, we’d save $200,000 every year and avoid escalations and alleviate customer frustration. Very quickly it became a no-brainer for our leaders to take action. And guess what? They asked me to find more scenarios like this one that they could solve. This was a great learning moment for me.

Humanize the insight.

Sometimes connecting insight to financials and metrics is not enough or not even possible. Get leaders attention by humanizing the insight. Identify the customers who are experiencing the scenario and create an insight story through the lens of their experience. Make it real and human – include their names and the value they bring. When I worked at ADP I created a real-time customer journey of our new customers who were promoters. Each month I shared their experience from implementation, customer service, their first experiences with payroll, account management, the products, quarterly business reviews, escalations, new projects, etc. At the top of the slide I showed the customer name and their annualized value. As I shared this monthly, I was able to get cross-functional leader attention and commitment to take action as it referenced real customers with real names in nearly real-time with real dollars attached.

Personalize the insight.

Tell the insight story by comparing it to an experience in a different industry like a scenario in a restaurant, hospital, automobile service, booking travel reservation, banking, etc. For example, at McKesson and ADP we had scenarios where support and service could not relate to anticipating customer needs during their engagements, so I began to relate the story to a dining experience at their favorite restaurant. How attentive was the server? Did you have to ask for more water or iced tea? Did you have to ask for more napkins or bread? Did you have to chase down the server for the check? Or did the server pay just the right amount of attention to refill your drink, offer more napkins, a check, etc.? Another way to personalize the insight is to tell the insight story through the eyes of your mother. How would my mother react or imagine how your mother would feel or react if she experienced the scenario in question?

Be creative. Be persistent. Keep spinning that key insight in different ways with different stories.

To get leaders and managers attention, connect the insight to their hearts as well as their purse strings. To learn more, be sure to watch the 30-minute video below entitled “Driving Insights Into Action”. In this video the Macquarium Experience Management Team shares real life examples of how they were successful at driving insights into action. The video also covers several actions leaders and practitioners can take today as a way to move their organizations forward.

The time to disrupt is now!
Let’s do it by driving insights into action.