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Data Beats Opinion Every Time with Customer Experience Management

December 05, 2012
By Mae Kowalke - TMCnet Contributor

Some people were surprised by the outcome of the elections in the U.S. this year, as some analysts always are. But one political analyst was not surprised: Nate Silver. That’s because instead of using his gut, or a single poll to figure out the mood of the electorate, Silver aggregated several polls and relied heavily on the data that was collected.

Silver, who writes the Five Thirty Eight blog for the New York Times, was overall pretty accurate in his predictions. His methodology, according to TCELab chief customer officer, Bob Hayes, offers lessons for CEOs. When looking at a firm’s customer experience management, CEOs should keep Silver in mind.

“Sometimes, opinion and data collide,” wrote Hayes. “Some people primarily rely on their personal opinions as a guide to their understanding of the world. Others primarily rely on the use of data as their guide.” Hayes sided with those who use data, such as Nate Silver, and he gave four suggestions for how companies can leverage customer experience management (CEM) data to better their customer experience.

“Use data to draw your conclusions, especially if there is a preponderance of the evidence about what will happen,” he counseled. “Sure, judgment is important in making important decisions/conclusions, especially in times of uncertainty, but when the data overwhelmingly tell you what is happening, those data trump judgment in their importance to helping you make important decisions about your company.”

Second, be a scientist and “test” theories.

“Beliefs can be tested/supported/disputed using customer feedback data,” he noted. “This process is one of hypothesis testing, using data to rule out alternative explanations for what is occurring in your customer base while supporting other explanations for what is occurring.”

Third, use multiple data sources to draw conclusions. That’s what Nate Silver does; he aggregates polls into a single meta-analysis, which basically is a study of studies.

“In business, there are many different sources to tell you the health of the customer relationship, from relationship surveys and transaction-based surveys to social media sites to branded community sites. Looking at different sources of customer feedback will paint a more comprehensive picture of the real health of the customer relationship,” noted Hayes.

Finally, be a good statistician and segment your customers so the data is meaningful. Politicians do this all the time, attacking specific voter demographics. Companies should do this, too, when it comes to customer experience management.

“Examining the differences across different customer segments helps you tailor your marketing, sales and service approaches to target specific customer groups’ needs. This practice managing customer segments differently maximizes the return on investment of your business’ resources which helps the overall performance of the company,” he noted.

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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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