Given the complexity and uncertainty in today’s business world, organizations have been forced to consider and deliver continuous improvements.

The customer experience is often a focal point of these improvements, with businesses looking for ways to implement continuous innovation and enhancement—especially if you are in the industry of selling the customer experience. But no matter the industry, it’s important for you to consider your customers’ experience before, during, and after purchase.

To this end, organizations have been striving to improve customer interface points through better support, improved technologies, more data, and other means. Businesses are constantly seeking and asking for more data from their customers. The biggest challenge is not actually a lack of data or customer feedback, or even effective tools to gather customer data. The biggest challenge organizations often face is making sense of the data they already have and using that data effectively.

In light of the recent strain on many industries due to COVID-19, it begs the question: How do you take the data you have on your customers, their experiences, your organization’s resources, and the opportunities for improvement—and use it to actually improve the customer experience?

Every organization must invest as much energy in learning from data as they spend on collecting the data. Here are three ways you can use data to improve the customer experience with your organization.

Know the data you have and how it’s organized—and don’t rely on a single data point alone. Businesses often think they already have the right data to solve problems and improve the customer experience. But this data doesn’t always address the most important strategic questions, especially unorganized or on its own.

For example, your organization may use a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to understand if a customer had a good experience with one of your sales or customer service representatives. That customer may rate their experience a 5 out of 5 and would happily work with that rep again—but the customer didn’t buy. They gave a great score; why wouldn’t they buy?

This single data point cannot be your one and only. You must ask yourself what two, three or more data points should combine to inform you whether a customer is likely to buy or not. Knowing exactly what data you have and how it’s organized will help you pinpoint the data that can address your strategic needs.

Analyze the data in context. Just as no single piece of data tells the full picture, you also cannot analyze your data in only one context. It takes multiple data points analyzed in many ways to fully understand the problem you hope to address.

Say your team is looking at the number of people coming to your website and inquiring about your services. You can look at these numbers and think that your marketing strategy is working because you have so many visitors. But does more website traffic mean more business? Not necessarily. Sometimes you and your team do not control the context, but outside factors do. For example, a travel agency’s website will likely see more traffic during on-peak seasons. In this case, you don’t entirely control whether your marketing campaigns are working—you need to analyze if they are working within the context of the season. You also need to factor in what time of year people make travel plans, whether they are last-minute plans or planned far in advance, locations and activities that might be popular based on the season, and so on.

Segment your data to answer both simple and specific questions so that you can analyze it within the right context. Mountains of data do not lead to insight; rather, clarity of your analysis leads to insight. Be sure to look at as many contexts as possible to gain better clarity.

Innovate based on your data. Now that you have gathered data, segmented it, and analyzed it within the right contexts, use your knowledge to create simple products and services that will engage your customers. Using these innovations, show them that you are listening—and are ahead of—their needs and wants. Think about the kinds of products or services you want to introduce in the seasons and years ahead. What can you do to anticipate your customers’ needs and wants?

As you plan your innovations, continue to measure your many data points to see what will be effective for your customers and how. You need to not only create the products and services for the future, but also to continue collecting data to know how effective your innovations are for your customers.

Following these three steps will allow you to gain even more insight into the data you already have and grant you the ability to improve your customers’ experience with specificity for years to come.

Originally published by Kenya Institute of Management Magazine.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company via Pexels.