Data and the insights it can provide are key to decision making in business. Feedback studies, focus groups and surveys deliver a wealth of learnings about customers, employees and the market which can inform strategy and service offerings. Too often though, quality decision making is hampered by the fact that data from these three key business areas are collated and held in separate silos within customer service, human resources and marketing departments.
This siloed approach means getting a true joined up picture of the business can be cumbersome, expensive or often almost impossible, meaning real insight is often fractured. This fracture has the potential to widen even further in a world where data is becoming more diverse and it continues to grow in ever increasing volumes. As we increasingly move into a world where ‘big data’ becomes a reality and businesses routinely gain insight from more complex sources such as unstructured data and mobile devices and sensors, healing the fracture is critical.
If we look just at those departments which most impact on the customer experience (either directly or indirectly) – customer service, human resources and marketing, typically we find that most businesses have, or plan to invest in systems to collect actionable insight from these groups. The issue is that most are not yet unifying this information to drive real business advantage. To my mind there are five key priority areas where information needs to be brought together and shared in order for organisations to flourish.
1 Tracking the competition
Your employees are on the front line of your operations, and possess an acute understanding of what your competitors are doing and your customers are saying. At the same time, marketers are the masters of market research and will have a detailed overview of how consumers perceive the brand. Tie it together and all of a sudden a deeper understanding across the business can evolve that unlocks new opportunities. If for instance, staff report increased switching from competitor product X, then you can carry out consumer research to see if this is a widespread trend, and target accordingly.
2 Identifying a pattern between employee motivation levels and customer satisfaction
Many companies measure customer satisfaction levels, some also relate that back to the individual employee who delivered the service. Few however take this one step further and look at the satisfaction level of the employee. Why does this matter? By being able to see that Customer A gave high feedback after being served by Employee B, who gave a very positive score in his last employee engagement survey demonstrates the impact of motivated staff. Identifying this link enables the good work of individual employees to be recognised and the right processes and training put in place to spread good practice to other members of staff.
3 Combining employee and customer feedback
Moving away from day-to-day operations, bringing together customer and employee feedback delivers insight that is vital for business planning. For example, retailers invest millions in creating and rolling out new store formats. Measuring their success and fine tuning layouts is therefore critical. But too often, customer feedback takes months to collect and employee insight is only provided via the next annual engagement survey. Using a unified platform to collect feedback from both groups, on the first day that store one is open, provides invaluable information that can be used to proactively fine tune future openings rather than having to wait for customer research to catch up with reality.
4 New product development
In the run up to launching a new product or service, being able to compare how current and target customers regard your new offering is vital. Involving them early, and using feedback lets you see if you will gain new market share – or even alienate existing customers. Key to this is being able to get feedback in real-time, and bring together insight from across multiple different channels quickly, so that plans can be amended to better reflect customer and market demand. Use of online communities, market research, and fan pages on Facebook all give reach and granular insight when added together.
5 Spotting the hidden five percent
Silo-based feedback systems typically only flag the biggest themes and concerns, such as overall customer satisfaction. While these can be tracked across employee, customer and market research, smaller themes are often neglected. By bringing all of your feedback into a single system, these long tail trends are easier to spot, uncovering lucrative opportunities to improve processes or deliver new products or services. If 5 percent of employees, customers and potential buyers all flag issues with the name of a particular product, the insight could be lost in silo-based feedback. The fact that all three groups raise the problem can only be uncovered through 360 degree insight. The benefits of integrating insight are wide ranging – greater flexibility to take faster, more informed decisions, higher quality decision making and lower costs.
The examples above highlight just five areas where unifying information could potentially be powerful. Further benefits of unifying feedback include cost reduction and faster decision making. Solving this information challenge is vital now and will only become even more so for companies that want to thrive in the future. Find out more about how unifying insight can drive advantage at http://www.questback.com/uk/customer-insight
What are you views on the benefits of (and barriers to) unifying feedback? Let me know in the comments below.