This is part 2 of my conversation with Kerry Bodine about B2B customer experience management. Part 1 is here.
Kerry Bodine is a customer experience consultant and the co-author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Her ideas, analysis, and opinions have appeared on sites like The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, USA Today, and Advertising Age.
Aldwin Neekon: So how do you recommend companies who are getting started in customer experience management sift through all of the information they get through all these different sources? You’re not going to get a unified voice from thousands of customers. Some customers will love something that other customers hate. How do you avoid misinterpreting the data?
Kerry Bodine: You can always interpret data a million different ways. Data does not necessarily equal truth. Data equals data and people make truths based on biases, storytelling, and their own point of view. I think people look at data as this indisputable thing, and it’s simply not.
For example, a company redesigned its website and maybe a month later the CEO sent out a note to employees saying that the redesign has been a complete success, an assertion based on the fact that page views had gone up after the launch. This CEO assumed that page views had gone up because people were now suddenly able to find more content, were somehow compelled to learn more, and so were digging deeper and getting more value out of the site. That’s certainly one way to interpret that data point. You could also interpret the increase in page views as site visitors no longer being able to find the content that they could easily get to before the website redesign and having to hunt around on 10 different pages for it.
As humans we simply can’t deal with massive amounts of data. We need it to be curated in some way so we can make sense of it. That’s why infographics have become so popular. (Although I could point out that most infographics are not actually infographics…) The people in an organization who are aggregating customer data need to curate it by finding a story in the data and then telling that story.
We’re wired to tell and remember stories. So rather than sending out a slidedeck with 500 bar charts, what if you presented all of your customer, sales, and financial data in the context of a customer journey map? Tell the story of a customer researching a product, buying it, using it, getting post-sales support—and then layer on data points and illustrations. Add a video of a customer going through a particular step and overlay survey feedback for that particular touchpoint. Add pictures, screenshots, or heatmaps that show interactions on your website.
Aldwin: You take the mountain of data, you tell a story about it, and then you use the data to illustrate the story at the different chapters. Here’s a whole bunch of data, and what it shows is that they’re happy, then they’re sad, then they’re happy. Now let’s look at that second step when they’re sad—and here’s some detailed data that illustrates what that means. Then you can say, “We think if we change these 3 things, they’ll be happier.” And that way you’ll have a baseline and something you can measure, change, manage, and check for progress against.
Kerry: Exactly. You need a team to look at that data and synthesize it and tell a good story about it. And that’s hard. That’s not a skillset that a lot of companies possess because it draws on a lot of skillsets, like qualitative data understanding, quantitative data understanding, visualization, and storytelling. It’s not the typical skillset that any one person or even one team typically possesses.
In part 3 of this series I ask Kerry what’s different about B2B vs. B2C customer experience management.
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