Is It Time to Moneyball Customer Experience?

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The term "moneyball" comes from a popular book and subsequent film about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and their general manager Billy Beane. The story highlights how the team became extremely competitive despite having one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball. The secret? It made effective use of data and analytics to make better decisions. Beane changed the way baseball executives look at data and created a legacy with his unconventional approach, now used widely throughout Major League Baseball.

Like Billy Beane, customer experience professionals seek to create a competitive advantage. Those who become successful will think about customer data as more than merely customer sentiment and perception. They will explore unconventional approaches to leverage the increasing amount of data available and create a holistic understanding of the customer. And they will use predictive and prescriptive analytics to create an experience customers recognize, value, and reward.

It's time for all customer experience professionals to think more broadly about the customer data they use to guide business strategy and customer-focused initiatives. CX leaders can create better insights with data by following these six steps:

1. Set your sights. Billy Beane had a goal: win games and make the playoffs. Customer experience professionals should start with a similarly clear understanding of what will have the greatest impact on customers. Consider systems and processes that can be modified to improve the experience. Determine how the company can do a better job of anticipating customer needs. Identify the biggest challenges encountered by customers. Having clear and specific objectives will guide the data gathering and analysis and ensure a meaningful initiative.

2. Call in the geeks. Different skills are essential for leveraging big data to create actionable insights. Whether one person wears multiple hats or a couple of people are involved, the geeks represent the roles that are inherently involved. During this stage, those in various roles are called upon to clean and map the data, apply analytical techniques to identify patterns or anomalies, and listen to and interpret what the data are saying.

3. Make connections. Information access is a common barrier for CX professionals. Making connections is about identifying what information is necessary and seeking the relationships that can help you access it. To get access, you need to know what you're looking for, where it might exist, and who can help you get it. Customer experience leaders must know what data they want and work with others to gain access.

4. Know your priorities. There are all kinds of data available, much of which goes unnoticed, or at least unanalyzed. It is up to the CX professionals to quickly pick out, from mountains of data, the significant information. They must prioritize the development of systems and processes that enable their organizations to filter through customer intelligence, prioritize it, and determine what to do with it...quickly.

5. Launch a campaign. After the data has been gathered, analyzed, and visualized, and potential insights have been discovered, the next step is to share it. This phase is about getting others onboard to drive action. CX leaders must be disciplined and diligent about how they share data-driven insights. It's not enough to simply deliver reports and assume others will put the information to use. A campaign needs to be launched to assure colleagues understand it, believe it, support it, and take action on it.

6. Make it stick. To make a lasting impact, customer experience leaders must change habits. They need to build their processes into the fabric of the organization so they become second nature. One effective approach is to embed insights into the decision support systems, such as CRM systems, incentive plans, and dashboards. Or develop close-the-loop systems and other reporting formats that ensure relevant data is part of the everyday workflow.

Billy Beane effectively changed the way baseball professionals use analytics to gain a competitive advantage. That's more than a good idea—he's created a legacy. Customer experience leaders can create their own legacy by effectively using the right data to make a big impact in their organizations.

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker Information, a customer intelligence consulting firm. You can read his blog at http://blog.walkerinfo.com/blog/engaging-the-enterprise, and he can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com.

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