How to Use Imperfect Data to Deliver a Perfect Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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Customer experience solutions are readily available these days.  

There are robust platforms that promise a seamless journey for your customers. There are feedback tools to help you gather JUST the perfect, most meaningful insights.

There are data sets and analytics and pivot tables, oh my!  

The real challenge in any customer experience scenario is the cold, hard fact that your customers are…human. Humans behave by their own set of rules. And by their own set of rules, I actually mean each individual THINKS they are making decisions based on an extremely personal set of values, lifestyles, restrictions, negotiations and on and on and on.  

But the irony is that we tell ourselves these are the reasons we do things and these are loosely true based on the emotions we feel in the moment. Neuroscience tells us human beings are immensely irrational and emotional creatures, meaning each one of us is a puzzle that can’t be totally solved! 

So, what’s a customer experience leader to do?  

While we might be able to accept the idea that grouping people always leads to exceptions and imperfect data, it’s still data.

If the majority of your front-line employees, for instance, are complaining about their system as clunky, cumbersome and an obstacle of the ideal customer journey, it’s time to fix the system.

If the majority of your customers are telling you the mobile app isn’t worth installing, it’s time to create more value there.

Imperfect data can lead to a closer-to-perfect experience  

Let’s accept data as imperfect. Let’s accept that human behaviors are difficult to decipher and predict. Let’s also accept how we want to provide a meaningful, memorable and effortless experience for our customers and those who serve them. 

The secret to all this data management and Customer Experience Management is both simple and complex. I see it as three big ideas to lead to a better experience for all: 

1. Know what the ideal experience is!

If you haven’t mapped your customer’s real journey in a while, or ever, that’s an important step. Know what your customers’ reality is. Not what you THINK it is, but what it actually is.

Then map the ideal experience, based on reducing effort for customers, improving the outcomes they want, and making the experience of employees as seamless as possible.  

This is not a quick fix, but knowing what the reality is today and where you want to go is really half the battle!  

2. Look for patterns in the data you have.

Regardless of how robust your customer experience management system is or isn’t, you have data. Find out what patterns are accepted as truth. Listen for those accepted realities about a hotspot in your customer’s journey.  

If you hear things like “our customers all hate our invoices” repeated, it’s time to really look at what the data around that is telling you.

  • What do they hate?
  • Are you receiving payment late because customers can’t decode their complicated invoices?
  • Is your accounting team insisting on codes that are easier for you but not the customer? 

Whatever data you have, tracking those patterns month after month provides real insights. BUT you have to start somewhere.  

Don’t let the feeling of overwhelm prevent you from gaining valuable insights you might already have in your data. 

3. Decide what to improve. Then do it!

Your customers are depending on you to listen to their feedback, then act on it. If you don’t have a way to prioritize and execute on those ideas, then you don’t really have a reason to collect feedback.

The best organizations have a cross-functional team to help determine how to execute, as well as a way to circle back with the customers who provided feedback. Sending the survey is not enough!  

You can do this!

To Recap, three ways to get closer-to-perfect results from nowhere-near-perfect data are:

  1. Know what the ideal experience is by understanding the customer’s actual journey — not just what you assume it to be.
  2. Look for patterns in the data you have to find trends and prioritize action.
  3. Decide what to improve. Then do it! Data can’t work without action. Honor the time and effort made to collect data by using it to get real results.

Are you ready to accept these truths and create a closer-to-perfect experience for your customers? It’s time to define your future, use the data you have, and act on it!  

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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