Designing Dashboards

The Continuum of Data-Driven Success [Guest Post]

By Annette Franz
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This post was written by Annette Franz, CCXP, Customer Experience Expert and Founder/CEO of CX Journey, Inc.

Data is just data until you do something with it, right?

That statement has plagued companies for a long time and for a variety of reasons—not the least of which is that they just don’t know what to do with the data.

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I recently shared tips on moving beyond data for the sake of data (and dashboards for the sake of dashboards) in a Logi webinar. Now, I want to shed further insight on one of the areas I covered during my presentation: how data-driven decisions and actions have evolved, particularly for customer experience professionals.

Customer experience professionals know that, in order to deliver a great experience, companies must listen to customers, link customer feedback to transactional (and other) data, and act on what they hear. There’s an old Gartner statistic that I still like to share because I believe it’s relevant to this day:

Ninety-five percent of companies collect customer feedback, yet only 10 percent use the feedback to improve, and only 5 percent tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard.

This statistic is a good high-level representation of how companies have matured or evolved (or haven’t) along the continuum of data-driven success. Let’s take a closer look at that continuum. And let’s assume that Phase 0 is not listening to customers or looking at data at all.

Phase 1: Feedback

This is where we see companies in the primitive stages of understanding the importance of data (i.e., they know they need to listen to their customers, oftentimes because everyone else is doing it). But that’s all they do; they check the box to say, “We listen.” And they’re paralyzed by the reams of data that exist within their systems.

Phase 2: Metrics

Here, companies pick up their next bad habit when it comes to customer listening and understanding: they focus on a metric, on making their number, on moving the needle on the score. Doing that rather than using data to improve the customer experience is not really progress, and it’s not really a good thing. When you focus on the metric, you reward the behaviors that move the number, not on those that deliver a better experience. Those former (not latter) behaviors are often the bad behaviors.

Phase 3: Insights

Now we’re starting to make some progress. Companies at this level are interpreting the data, digging for insights, and telling the story of the data. They are making some data-driven improvements, mainly tactical at this point.

Phase 4: Outcomes

Companies realize they cannot just make improvements without linking the findings and the work to be done to operational metrics and business outcomes. They realize they’ll make greater progress and get the resources (human, capital, and more) if they can show that “If we do X, it will impact Y.”

Phase 5: Innovation

Here, we see some real progress! Companies leverage the data and insights they’ve gathered to make significant strategic improvements. They use the data to develop new products that solve problems for customers and help them do some job, and they redesign the customer experience to better meet customers’ expectations.

The important component along each phase is, obviously, the data and what is done with it. What’s critical to that is the way the data is presented to the user who needs to do something with it. There’s definitely an evolution in analysis and reporting as companies mature along the continuum. The output goes from basic descriptive statistics, to metrics and trends, to insights and stories, to ROI and financial linkages, and finally to predictive and prescriptive recommendations that retain customers.

Consider these factors when you’re developing reports and dashboards for customer experience professionals or for those who need to consume customer data in order to improve the experience. The data needs to be presented in a way that’s actionable; more specifically, it needs to tell the user exactly what needs to be done, why, and what the impact of making the change will be.

“There are two goals when presenting data: Convey your story and establish credibility.”
–Edward Tufte (statistician)

To learn more, view the on-demand webinar: 5 Steps to Making Data Actionable.

Originally published December 14, 2017

About the Author

Annette Franz, CCXP is Founder/CEO of CX Journey Inc. She also blogs and shares her passion for helping companies understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering an exceptional customer experience. She was recently recognized as one of "The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter" by Business Insider and has been recognized by several organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience.