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We read articles about problems in companies due to customer experience and we wonder why with all the hype about data and analytics these companies are blind to the facts. In todays business environment the term customer experience is frequently followed by the word data.

“We monitor our customer experience using massive amounts of data”. “We are learning about our customers using data”. Experts claim that monitoring social media is the key to “knowing your customer”.

These companies are hiding behind the data. Why not just go out and experience what your customers are experiencing. Customers have to deal with automated phone systems, web sites that try to sell products but don’t help customers resolve problems and surly staff. Some companies who have understand follow some very simple philosophies such as “the customer is always right”. They have developed systems that support this philosophy and as a result continue to receive high ratings for their customer experience.

Many organizations use data to assess the customer experience. Data does not provide any insight as to how a customer feels. Data has no emotional or cognitive aspects. If companies want to know about what their customers face when interfacing with their company, go out there and be a customer. Don’t hide behind the data.

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Tags: customer, experience

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Comment by Richard Ordowich on November 19, 2014 at 6:16pm

My point is you don't need text analytics to know your customer. Begin by asking your employees to relate their own experiences with companies they deal with. Automated phone systems, surly customer service people, poor product information. Then look at how your company interfaces with your customers. How many of those negative customer experiences occur in your company?

No need for data scientists, text analsyis software or massive databases. No need for call center transcripts, just spend a few hours listening in on the calls. Transcripts don't capture intonation.

Observation is all that is required. Begin with the assumption that your customers are frustrated and dissatisfied all the time. I suggest using customer experience sessions and talking to customers is more direct, less costly and has the added benefit of telling your customers you really do care.  

Or you can spend money, play with the data while you lose customers.

But regardless of which technique you use, the critical decision you have to make is that you want to improve the customer experience . Otherwise all of this is just window dressing.

 In today's transactional world, customers have become data commodities and digital personas. Do you trust your "personal" computer telling you how you feel today? Why do companies want to believe their impersonal computers and software can tell how their customers feel? They believe they have invented ELIZA the computer therapist.

Comment by Brandon Purcell on November 19, 2014 at 3:01pm

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your article.  While I agree with you that it's important to "experience the customer experience," I disagree with the statement that "Data does not provide any insight as to how a customer feels. Data has no emotional or cognitive aspects."

Working with Voice of the Customer data in the form of customer emails, call center transcripts, social media posts, and responses to open-ended survey questions, I see customer emotion in data all the time. For instance, there is clearly some strong emotion contained in the tweet below:

@DigitalSkraps: i HATE @comcast with every ounce and molecule in my being.

Text analytics allows us to identify comments with emotion, categorize them, quantify them, and track them over time. The next step in this case would be to search for the co-occurrence of the emotion "hatred" for Comcast and different aspects of the customer experience to find out what is driving this emotion.

The article suggests walking a few steps in the customer's shoes. This will definitely reveal the aspects of the experience that a particular employee finds painful on a certain day. Text analysis of Voice of the Customer data, however, can tell you which aspects of the experience CUSTOMERS find most frustrating every day. And it allows you to quantify the impact of the problem so you can prioritize action.

So, I agree putting yourself in the shoes of the customer is a part of the solution. But to truly listen to customers, you need a much larger data-driven strategy.

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