hiring cx teams who to hire first

Hiring Tips: Who Should I Hire First on My CX Team

Although Customer Experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last 5 years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands and B-to-B entities.

How to Build a CX Team

Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in Customer Experience efforts.

The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.

Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place

The CX cycle begins and ends with Customer Insights ( the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin.  If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.

Hire a manager level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning.  You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.

Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place

Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.

This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.

Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team

Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.

If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.

Hiring when you Have All of the Above on Your CX Team

The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.

These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.

Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.

Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.

As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.

More from DOINGCXRIGHT

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

what is cx meaning

CX Meaning: What are the Faces of CX?

When I worked in marketing nobody ever asked me “What does marketing mean?”. Since I moved into Customer Experience, every time I give my job title, someone asks “What does CX mean?”.

Even though customer experience is recognized as more and more important for the long term survival of brands, many remain confused about CX meaning. Here are six ways you can answer when asked about what CX means.

Customer Experience means any one and all of the below. Each area of CX represents a path for CX professionals to impact business health and build successful careers. One of my favorite CX analogies is that it is like the blood in our bodies. When CX is done well, it touches every aspect of an organization. That’s what makes customer experience so much fun! You will never be bored working in CX.

CX Meaning & Marketing

Smart CX comes AFTER marketing

When I mentor Customer Experience professionals, my first question is always about brand promise and brand strategy. Marketing defines a brand’s customer service when it broadcasts the RTBs (reasons to believe or use a brand). The customer experience mission is to consistently deliver on those marketing promises. That is how CX promotes a brand.

CX Meaning: Policies & Procedures

Good CX means redesigning policies and procedures to make customers’ life easier

Sometimes Customer Experience is about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and in your employees’ shoes. Do this to understand what your customers go through to get “their jobs done” with your brand. And what your employees do to get their jobs done on behalf of your brand.

Looking at it from the customer’s perspective, his/her “job” might be to sign up for your subscription service, pay a bill, or close an account. Often, Customer Experience professionals find out that a bad customer experience is bad by design. This is not malicious, of course, nor is it intended. But still, the bad outcome happened by design!

That kind of poor design starts from the ground up. Think about training materials and how they prepare frontline employees to deliver customer experience. Those materials might be teaching the employees to ask a question in an insensitive way as a result of regulatory requirements. Two policies might have been written in silos and might be asking the same questions of new customers in a way that makes them feel like your brand is wasting their time.

In a bigger, older and more merger-driven organization, CX is often about cleaning the so called “customer journeys” by revising existing rules and procedures. Although this may not be the most exciting part of CX for me, for an engineer, cleaning up these procedures is an exceptionally rewarding and meaningful job.

CX Meaning: Customer Engagement

Asking customers what they like/do not like about their experiences with a brand improves CX

Another side of CX, survey making and survey analysis, helps to capture the VOC (Voice of the Customer). This is the job of people who design, analyze and offer recommendations to business units based on what they have heared from customers. This part of CX is integral. It drives results when it is done properly.

The challenge is the integration levels within the business. Often VOC teams are perceived as the analytics group. Instead of being the drivers of change, they simply “service” the business when the business has questions for them. In other words, instead of the customer voice driving the conversation, the business assumes it understands what the customer needs. Regardless of the challenges, surveys, analysis and VOC are excellent opportunities within the CX fields, particularly for CX professionals with a background and interest in analytics.

CX Meaning: Employee Engagement

Ask employees what they NEED to deliver better CX and GIVE it to them

A derivative of VOC, VOE (Voice of the Employee) is an analytics version of CX that drives the engagement inside the company. Ideally, this team asks the right questions from employees to learn what prevents them from delivering on those marketing promises we mentioned earlier.

It is amazing what one can learn from the frontline. From illogical or user unfriendly UX design of every day tools, to approval levels of discretionary spending that make no sense, employees highlight the holes in customer experience that leave a brand vulnerable. When VOC and VOE are the same people, the impact of this specific CX job is palpable to all! Very few organizations set up a system for understanding and adapting to VOC and VOE needs. Often VOE is under HR and VOC is under Marketing, completely isolating the insights from one another.

There are important opportunities available for organizations who are able to bring VOC and VOE together and design CX according to those insights.

CX Meaning: Process & Architecture Design

Process and architecture design must allow free movement.

My favorite version of Customer Experience is the design and human experience planning of a product or service. It combines engineering, brand management, design, and VOC. Not many organizations have this CX job clearly defined. It is one of those things that you have to create for yourself. But doing so is not that hard, depending on the life cycle of your brand.

If the brand is building an app and it is a retail business, you can absolutely take this app and integrate it in the physical spaces of the brand. I can promise you either nobody is thinking about it or they are, but they are thinking it is in the distant future. You can take this side of the experience, build it and make a big impact!

CX Meaning: Organization Advocacy

Be an advocate for the Customer so everything the company does keeps the customer in mind

The last role in CX is the most senior. It is also the most difficult. These are the people that work with the executive team to provide funding for Customer Experience departments and programs. They are also the people who design the organization to deliver consistent, easy and seamless experiences for customers.

Think Elena Ford and what she is doing with her company. Executive leaders who are advocates for CX take into account VOC, VOE, marketing, processes and procedures, product development and employee training to build systems around the experiences customers need and want from your brand. For them, and for their brands, CX improves the way they do business. And that, at the end of the day, is the true meaning of CX.

 

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

customer loyalty voc

Customer Loyalty Begins In-House

Ten years ago, creating customer loyalty meant assigning a membership number customers fed back to brands at the time of purchase. Customers went through the trouble of keeping track of loyalty numbers, hoping to collect enough points along the Continue Reading →

call center tips cx

3 Call Center Mistakes You Are Making

Before we dive into this post, I urge all of us to stop using the term call center. 2018 brands should not have call centers. Instead, engaged brands of today need Contact Centers.

If you are still responding to your customers only by phone, you are failing to provide efficient, relevant and timely customer support. Even worse, you are abandoning people who sought your help and never got it. Their tweets are floating unanswered in cyber space. After more than an hour of holding time, they hung up on you. Now that this caveat is out of the way, here are the 3 most common questions I get about call center management.

How Do You keep call center agents motivated and engaged?

The call center agent role is daunting. This leads to high turnover and low employee engagement scores. If you are managing a call center, you are likely struggling to keep up employee morale, before you can even hope to offer exceptional customer service.

The solution to employee engagement and ultimately, exception customer experience starts with the hiring process. Motivation and mission-driven service begins with hiring the right people. If your call center is staffed with people who see their jobs as temporary or transition positions, those people will not stay. They also will not give the job – and your customers – all they have.

Design profile of WHO you want in your contact center. Be ruthless about your selection process. Hire based on values and attitudes, not on skills. Hire with CULTURE in mind.

I appreciate that this is easier said than done, but it is not impossible. You can do it. If brands like Zappos and Ritz Carlton can do it, so can you. We all read about the incentive games and payment for performance. These are tactics that help maintain a culture of caring. But if you do not hire the right people, these tools will not make an impactful difference.

What vendor do you recommend for automating call centers using AI?

It is amazing that no matter how often my peers and I say that technology is not the answer, call center managers still ask this question expecting a silver bullet in the shape of a vendor name.

I will say it again here: you can use any type of vendor and still fail. You can also build a chat bot solution internally and succeed. The key here is recognizing two things that get overlooked all the time: aggregating and cleaning data.

Aggregating and cleaning your data is the foundation of any AI solution. Without this step, no vendor can save you. Garbage in, garbage out is exactly the logic here. So pause the vendor conversation and call your IT partner to discuss how ready your organization is for a chat bot solution. Do you have unique customer IDs? Do you have a relatively accurate matching tools and algorithms that can be transformed into a dashboard that can either help your contact center agents, or can be fed into a chat bot to answer basic questions?

Then, gather your call agents. Ask them what they need to provide memorable service. Empower them to help by LISTENING to them and by co-creating THEIR solution, not the vendor’s.  If Fedex asked the call agent who could not change my delivery address what she requires to satisfy customers needs, I am sure that the ability to change addresses in real time would be on her list.

What locations for outsourcing call centers are best?

This is another great example of the quest for the silver bullet. If you can remember one thing from this post , remember this – location is not everything in contact center management – culture is. Yes, you can outsource your contact centers, but the more money you save on the hourly wages, the more your brand erosion is going to increase.

When you realize that your contact center agents are an extension of your brand, you will be able to convert call center agents into brand ambassadors. This is when you are leveraging this touch point into a retention vehicle. For that business transformation to happen, you do not need to relocate the team to “the best location for call centers.” You need to look for the cradle of your brand and hire the right people in that location. That way, you will have the right ingredients to build a solid support center staffed with passionate people who genuinely want to help. From there, the Wow Moments pop up organically.

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

cx pyramid failure mta doingcxright

NYC Subway CX Kills Chivalry in the City

Brands with values inspire customers who interact with them. Nike encourages us to be brave and embrace our differences. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation urges us to be kind and care for others. Brands like this use the CX Pyramid to promote their values and deliver the reliable experiences customers want. Continue Reading →

coworking space wework doing cx right

WeWork Does CX Right with a Wow Moment

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Coworking space WeWork is our latest example of how to do CX right. Customer-centric brands that are winning at CX, or as we like to say, the brands that are "doingcxright" use customer experience to deliver on brand mission and values. In other words, doingcxright brands like WeWork walk the talk. At its best, CX is much more than the passive delivery of brand-directed experiences. When a brand creates personal, relevant experience at exactly the right time, it can build a lifelong, loyal customer relationship. You are probably thinking about big data and machine learning right now, but sometimes, all a brand needs is people who genuinely care.

In our post about focusing on CX experiences over investment in "wow moments," we evaluated a Wow Moment that failed to achieve the customer experience impact the brand wanted (and needed). However, this does not mean that Wow Moments should not be part of the CX professional's portfolio.

Used at the right time and place along the customer's journey, the Wow Moment is an excellent retention technique. Co-working space WeWork understands this. As a result, WeWork may just have created an extremely valuable business relationship with me by doing CX right and using the Wow Technique at the right time and place on my customer journey.

CX Moments are Marketing tools

Last week, I booked a small working space with WeWork in our company building. I suspect I was the first person to use our partnership with WeWork. We completed the transaction pretty quickly on Monday. We moved in on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon, the WeWork team member came to our space with a present for my unborn BABY. Now that is what I call surprise and delight.

They never commented on my pregnancy. They just acknowledged it with a kind gesture. Apart from the word of mouth that this timely gesture generated, WeWork inspired me to write this blog entry, generating even more marketing for themselves. Are they perfect in terms of operations - not necessarily. But is that what I am writing about? No.

Did this Wow Moment make a difference in my perception? Absolutely.

When Doing CX Right is a Retention Tool

Another effect of the gift WeWork bought for my daughter is retention. Even if I do not keep the space I rented on behalf of my employer, my customer relationship with WeWork will not end when the temporary rental ends.

WeWork is a smart brand that understands this. The company is working with a much longer horizon in mind. I do not think that there is more personal gift for a woman than a gift for her unborn child. With it, the WeWork brand became part of my child's first moments and that will always bring a smile to my face. So if I ever need working space in the future, will I reach out to WeWork?

What do you think?

WeWork is Celebrating WOmen - That's Doing CX Right

The world of business is finally embracing the true consumer power of women. Women-only co-working space, The Wing provides work and community space exclusively for women, both empowering women entrepreneurs and interacting with those entrepreneurs as the end consumer.

The Buzz is solving a decades-long safety challenge for young girls. With its timely Wow Moment, WeWork joined the ranks of those women-driven brands and will be rewarded for making that stand. One thing Millennials, Generation X and Generation Z value and reward is a brand that takes a stance.

Check the Nike's stock price this week and you will know what I mean.

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

 

 

cx stress to success

Eliminate Customer Stress with Good CX

Good customer experiences either give back customer time or alleviate customer anxiety. If a brand’s CX isn’t achieving one of those goals, the customer isn’t getting any real or perceived value.  How can brands manage stress?  Better yet, how can brands build experiences that eliminate customer stress?

Causes of Customer Stress – Feeling Out of Control

The number one driver of customer stress is lack of information. Today, customers demand information. Knowledge is power and customers want to be in control of their journeys and experiences. Who can blame them? In our fast-paced environment, time is precious. Brands that respect customer time win customer loyalty.

Spectrum’s customer experience leaves much to be desired, but their call center customer experience is a winner. Let’s walk through that journey.  When a customer calls Spectrum, the phone system states the exact length of the hold time and offers the option to receive a call back.

In this case, the customer gets relevant information to make a decision (call back later or stay on), and he/she is given a CHOICE. Information and choice alleviate CX stress.

Transparency in the moment immediately relaxes customers. It makes them feel more in control. When designing CX solutions, keep in mind the solution needs to be comprehensive in order to create value. A message that says “Your wait time will be longer than usual” is not informative enough to empower decision making. Customers do not know what the usual wait time is, so that information is useless. To build a call center solution that reduces CX stress, invest in creating a technology solution that actually offers customers value. Do not stop in the middle and deliver general “buckets” of information.

The New Jersey Transit System and Long Island Railroad are building experiences that give customers the power to manage their journeys. Customers can see wait times and buy tickets via an app. Commuters know there is nothing more stressful than worrying about catching the right train. One delay can mean missing a meeting or a kid’s school performance. The stakes are high and so is the stress. On-the-go ticket purchasing alleviates a lot of that stress. No more lines in front of kiosks that may or may not work. No more adding time to an already long commute.

Transform Customer Stress to Customer Loyalty

Stress caused by uncertainty is a real customer emotion that can drive customer loyalty and revenues if a brand manages it well. Who does not appreciate being taken care of? When patients are a brand’s customers, like in the case of Mount Sinai Hospital, the best business approach is to look across your customers’ journeys and find opportunities to bring more certainty and to empower customers with information.

One thing that I do not recommend is to manage a prenatal “school” for future parents without building out the ability to find the address for classes, schedule and purchase online. After three plus calls and going above and beyond with the person on the other end of the phone, I eventually managed to book what I needed. But do I trust the brand as much as they need me to? Will I recommend them to other expectant moms who are eager for information and recommendations? No.

In this case, Mount Sinai missed an opportunity to alleviate one customer’s stress, to promote loyalty, and to create an empowered customer. Make sure your brand doesn’t miss opportunities to turn CX stress into CX success!

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

customer experience consistency

Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of MomentsNo Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

A Bottle of Champagne Cannot Save Your Brand

Last week I spent four nights at the Marriott in Berlin, Germany. My husband and I represent a loyal customer with high lifetime value. He has the Marriott Elite Status. We are in our late 30s – plenty of time left to travel. Our recent hotel customer experience confirms that, when basic CX work is missing, a bottle of champagne cannot save your brand.

The hotel employees had zero communication with each other. The maintenance person who unsuccessfully tried to fix the AC the first night failed to tell the front desk he recommended a room change. The next day, after the front desk said the move could “only happen later,” hotel employees arrived to take our things to our “new room.”

customer experience fails

When I forgot my flip flops in the original room it took 3 business days, 2 front desk phone calls, 2 in-person front desk conversations, and 2 conversations with room service to get them back. The flip-flops arrived the night before my flight back to New York. Somewhere among these bad customer interactions, we received a bottle of champagne and an apology note from the hotel.

Is Poor Customer Experience the Norm?

The sad part is that customer experiences like this are part of our everyday lives. The Mount Sinai Hospital appointments system is literally non-existent. A patient can schedule one appointment for the morning and another for late afternoon, but the nurses cannot optimize the visit and make both appointments in the same half-day. When my girlfriend was re-admitted to the hospital a week after her release, her parents had to answer the EXACT SAME questions they answered the first time. The system did not allow the new nurse to see the original answers.

In a nutshell, the hospital lacks internal communication systems for employees to refer to across touch points. As a result, the poor frontline employees constantly look like fools to frustrated customers.

What is the ROI on Good Customer Experience?

Since the need is dire and the impact is grave, why don’t brands just fix this? There are several reasons.

First, “fixing” this problem means investing a lot of money in technology. And investments need ROI. What is the ROI of improving service? Will you sell more rooms if the flip-flops get back to me faster? How does a customer experience professional prove that claim?

Second, organizations (incorrectly) fail to recognize this extensive work as customer-facing. If you go to any organization (the way they are set today) you will see that the communication systems for employees is considered “back office.” Leaders rarely make the connection that empowering the frontline is the key to improving CX.

Third, this work is not “sexy.” It just isn’t. It is full of Excel spreadsheets and ancient legacy systems that need to be integrated or rebuilt. And the solution must be real-time to empower employees. That brings complexity that drives the price tag even higher.

Wow the Customer with Consistency

Brands should work on wowing the customer by delivering consistent experiences and getting the basics right. They need to do that before they introduce all the great one-off experiences they can deliver to a few guests.

Customers are wowed much more if their digital key can open their room door in Boston AND Berlin. Or if they can rely on digital checkout in both countries. The bottle of champagne only brings value when the customer’s basic needs have been met.

Don’t deliver champagne in lieu of consistent, positive customer experience.

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

dominos digital strategy innovation cx bold move

CX Bold Moves: Domino’s Making the Right CX Choices

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series of CX Bold Moves. See all the DoingCXRight CX Bold Moves stories.

Domino’s Pizza made two CX bold moves – changing a nearly half-century old recipe and committing to digital innovation. These moves are translating into more sales and more engaged customers.

The pizza giant is placing a big bet on digital and customer experience and following through with a strategic execution. 50% of Domino’s orders are digital and two thirds of them are through mobile devices. Achieving such a meaningful channel shift is not easy (or cheap). The payoff – increased sales and revenue – makes it worthwhile. Last year Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle told CNBC the strategy is not demonstrating impactful cost savings, but improved customer experience is driving sales up.

Thinking Beyond the Phone

Domino’s incorporated Alexa and Goggle Home as ordering channels. The in-home connected devices are a significant part of the Domino’s voice strategy to create customer experiences that drive sales. Similar to JetBlue, Domino’s believes that future customer interactions with brands will be completely digital and not tied to devices like phones. JetBlue’s facial recognition product does not require customers to have any paper, or a phone, to board a plane. Similarly, Domino’s is building the ability to order pizza using only your voice.

Going Outside the Home

After listening to customers say they want to get pizza delivery on the beach or at a game, Domino’s announced its plan to deliver pizza anywhere their customers are. The brand took a customer need and built a product around it – a smart CX move executed in a bold way.

Dennis Maloney, Domino’s CTO, stated that this product is not a case of discovering new technology. Rather, it is an example of a new use of existing technology – this is exactly how we define innovation! Of course, there are caveats around the current version of the product. The delivery spots are pre-defined and not available everywhere. But that is not really the point. The point is that Domino’s stock has gone up 5000% since 2008 based on a new recipe and this kind of digital transformation. The brand put the customer’s needs and desires at the center of its product design and it is winning, big time. It is a great CX story to move from a tweet like “worst pizza I’ve ever had” to ordering pizza on Twitter using just the pizza emoji.

Making Hard Choices

Delivering an item to customers where and when they want it satisfies a standard customer experience need, but it is complex to accomplish. Brands like Amazon and Zappos grew their customer bases on that basic offering alone. But Domino’s is not just perfecting delivery with this strategy. The brand showed the strength to throw away a 49-year-old recipe. Many brands can’t manage to make a transformation like that, and suffer the consequences (see ToysRUs and so many others). In Shift Ahead, Allen Adamson talks about how National Geographic magazine died from its refusal to acknowledge the digital trend and shift to other channels. The book also covers Playboy’s inability to reinvent when times changed. Both brands did not move fast enough and fell into oblivion.

Domino’s shifted. Domino’s made the big bet on CX. For those of us working in customer experience, this is an impressive – and inspiring – move from strategy to execution. Building hot spots and a customer journey around those hot spots is neither easy nor cheap. If it pays off, Domino’s will have created an entirely new customer segment that does not exist today.

Now that is genius. Creating a new product, and a new industry/business segment? We’re witnessing the ultimate shift to the future.

 

 

 

*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

drowning in data no insights

A Lot of Data, Not Enough Insight

A month ago I saw a Forrester presentation on Customer Experience measurement that began with a great quote from the Global Bank: “We are drowning in data and starving for insight.”

Aren’t we all?

Most organizations have more data than they ever could have wanted, but that data is either sitting idle in databases or cloud environments, or it is used sub-optimally. Why is it that WeWork can build a tool to manage its 350 properties as a website and digitally view every detail about every building, but Fairway regularly emails me with first time user coupons that I am not eligible for as an existing customer?

Make Data Usable

The answer to this question is fundamentally simple, but practically complex. The first step is to centralize and clean the data so it can be used in an actionable way to extract insights. For existing companies this requires organizational redesign. That makes this step complex, political, and difficult to execute.

In one case, a major brand acquired three small start-ups with the business strategy to grow its customer base. The brand worked on learning how the three customer segments feel and what each segment wants in order to optimize the brand’s offering with three different products. Even though this was the correct first step, the strategy did not progress well. The company was not ready to centralize the customer insights systems and the teams of the three distinct brands they had acquired. Each start-up had its own customer database and customer definitions. None was open about giving access to that data. Thus no insights were derived from any of the three brands.

This case only scratches the surface of how companies miss opportunities with data. Accessing and aggregating data is an essential first step for all organizations, but that is not enough to derive insights. Even after teams and data are centralized and aggregated, insights are not available until the definitions of the data are aligned. How is a customer defined? How far back should the data go? What spend per customer makes that customer “valuable”?

Get Everyone in the Room

Organizations must answer these and many more questions in order to make available the capability of data insights. Often, companies complete step one, aggregate the data, but fail to analyze it and define the key parameters of it. Why? The answers should come from the consumers of the insights, not the technology teams building the insights. And those people are not in the room. Until there is a real engagement by the business and a collaboration among the teams, no one is getting any insights from their data.

Democratize Data

The last step of getting insight out of data might seem the simplest, but it is often missing. The quality of insights is directly correlated to the quality of the questions asked from the data. I will repeat that. The questions asked of data are the engine of the insights derived from data. This is where democratizing the cleaned data with a very user friendly UI is key. Good questions are rarely formed on the spot. As business challenges arise and new situations emerge, questions come out. It is important that access to the data is readily available (no coding or SQL skills necessary!!) to all so the end users can run reports and get the answers they need – and can act upon – in real time.

Successful brands like WeWork turn data into a tool. When companies perceive data as a tool, they create real value for customers. And when they fail to make the difficult steps of organizational redesign and pay for cleaning the data, we receive those coupons we can’t cash in.

View more of our conversations about data, and send us your questions about how to democratize and optimize data to improve customer experience in your organization.

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*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are the authors’ alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations