Big Data

Focus on Big Data causing CX frustrations for most firms


While it’s never been more important to deliver a relevant, quality customer experience, brands are finding it difficult to deliver on this because they are not collecting the right data.

5th Nov 2019

While it’s never been more important to deliver a relevant, quality customer experience, new research indicates that brands are finding it difficult to deliver on this because they are not collecting the right data.

A study conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services entitled ‘Beyond Big Data’, found that over three-quarters of all brands have no real understanding of what their customers actually want, despite understanding how important this is to delivering a positive customer experience. 

The research, commissioned by FocusVision, suggests that many companies centres are focusing on the wrong data to inform their CX activities – despite the fact that they have “access to more customer data than at any point in history”.

The findings indicate that too many businesses are fixated on Big Data – high-volume, high-speed and highly variable customer information, such as transactional or clickstream data, which sheds light on customer actions, choices and behaviours. But this has not been enough in and of itself to support significant improvements in customer engagement. 

Instead, the report argues that what is required is the addition of so-called ‘Small Data’, which focuses on why it is that consumers do what they do and make the choices they make at all stages of the customer journey. Small Data has traditionally been gathered through channels, such as interviews, surveys and focus groups and focuses more on feelings and perceptions than concrete activities.

As the report points out: “Big Data alone is no silver bullet. In fact, the majority of organisations may be data rich, but they remain insight poor, and not just because they lack analytics tools or expertise. The problem is that they are not effectively integrating more nuanced ‘Small Data’ with their Big Data to create a full understanding of their customers.”

CX efforts coming up short

Unsurprisingly then, while most of the 619 executives questioned have some kind of CX management strategy in place, only one in five describe it as working very effectively.

But most companies are struggling to integrate these two kinds of customer data because of “significant cultural, systems, process and people barriers” the report intimates. Only 15% of survey respondents (dubbed ‘leaders’) said they had done so very effectively, thereby managing to create a holistic view of their customers. A further 38% (called ‘followers’) had seen moderate success, while 36% (laggards) described their activities as ineffective.

Leaders definitely reaped the rewards of getting it right though. Three out of five claimed to have a good understanding of customer behaviour, with another 36% saying they understood it quite well. As a result, just over half attested their CX strategy was very effective compared with 18% of followers and 5% of laggards.

“Positive customer experience is paramount to success,” the report says. “Respondents were clear about the significant value that integrating greater customer insight has on CX management strategies: not just improved customer satisfaction and retention, but also new product and service innovations, maintaining competiveness, and increasing revenue growth from existing products (50%).”

Therefore, based on the lessons learned from leaders to date, the report lays out seven key success factors. These consist of:

  1. Ensuring executive buy-in about the need to integrate small and Big Data;
  2. Employing emerging small and big data methodologies, such as mobile, clickstream, telemetry, mobile diaries, online communities and focus groups;
  3. Providing the necessary data management systems and ensuring data is collected consistently;
  4. Breaking down organisational silos;
  5. Equipping users with the necessary analytical skills and tools to provide critical insights;
  6. Ensuring CX functions build close ties with the business so they understand the best way to deliver value and influence the wider organisation in how best to deliver CX;
  7. Stay focused to ensure a move to a customer-centric mindset is, and remains, embedded at all levels of the business.



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