Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CEM Toolbox: Making Sense of Your Data

How do we take all the data we have and make some sense of it?

Continuing my CEM Toolbox series, today I'm sharing some tools to inventory and to bring your disparate data and data sources together in one place, to facilitate achieving that single view of the customer.

In my previous post, I wrote about tools to help define the customer experience. This stage is about more than just surveys; it's about any and all data that pertain to the customer and the customer experience: structured or unstructured, solicited or unsolicited, competitive data, customer behavioral data, other customer data, and operational and financial metrics - data about customers, employees, partners, the market, the business.

Tools to Turn Data into Insights
It's worth noting that the data itself are a tool, but it's not in its final state. Data are just data until you do something with them. You must be able to turn data into insights into action. I'll write more about that in an upcoming CEM Toolbox post, but for now, let's focus on finding all the data.

Customer Feedback Map: This is the one tool that you'll want to start with as you go through this phase of your design work. Think about the many customer touchpoints of your organization, and then think about the various departments in your organization that might be asking customers for feedback at each of those touchpoints. It can be quite overwhelming — for you and for your customers! To make sense of it all, compile a feedback map.

Data Management Strategy: It is important to understand the sources and quality of your data, your data architecture and integration, and how you'll pull it all together to create a single view of a customer. This is a project all on its own, but it's ultimately an important component to an overall customer experience management strategy, of which VOC is one piece.

Surveys: Yes, they are a tool, too. Listening to customers - understanding who they are, what job they are trying to do, and how well you're performing - is probably one of your most important tools. It should be noted here that other listening posts are equally valuable.

EFM Platform: A VOC strategy is no time to try out or to use a simple online survey tool; if you're going to undertake this type of initiative, you'll need a scalable platform or solution that allows you to not only set up and deploy your surveys but also has tools to analyze the data and distribute it to those in the organization who then need to act on it. An EFM platform includes that and more, including the ability to bring many disparate data sources together into the one platform for deeper analysis and insights.

Other tools that might or might not be a part of the EFM platform include: text analytics tools, social media listening and analysis, and various statistical and analytical approaches (e.g., key driver, predictive, root cause, so-what, 5 whys, linkage, etc.) to tease the story out of the data.

CRM System: Clearly you need to capture everything that you know about the customer, including purchase and other financial or behavioral data, in a central location. (I use "central" loosely here because I have worked with too many clients where this is not the case and, more often then not, there are multiple systems in play.)

Other analytical tools: Analytical/statistical software programs like SPSS, R, SAS, etc. are valuable for deeper, more robust analysis of your customer data.

Analysis Plan: It wouldn’t hurt to think about how you want to analyze the data before you actually do it. I don’t see many clients going through this exercise, but an analysis plan will help to avoid analysis paralysis, or number crunching just for the sake of crunching.

What am I missing?

We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us. -Marshall McLuhan


  1. interested to know more on the 'analysys plan' as mentioned above...how to evaluate your data and plans...steps to taek

    1. Hi Karen.

      I think I'll have to write a blog post on that! A lot to answer in just a few sentences, but having an analysis plan can really frame your approach and hopefully help to avoid analysis paralysis. Stay tuned...

      Annette :-)

    2. Annette, you should. That is the most important bit. All the data in the world is worthless unless you know what the problem is you are trying to solve.

      I look forward to reading it.


    3. Annette,
      I'm with Karen and James and look forward to the post on the analysis plan.

      However, what tool would you use to help frame the initial questions and identify the problems that the business is aiming to solve?


    4. Thank you...stay tuned! It's coming soon. :-)