Hazel’s Thursday Thoughts – The Missing Link

Hazel’s Thursday Thoughts

As a customer, I am comforted when I observe companies making positive changes to improve their service. Such is the case at my local grocery store that has recently gone through significant renovations.  For example, they have reconfigured the store layout to include the sale of alcohol. How great is that for one stop shopping?

However, for me, the most interesting addition is the stand at the store’s exit with buttons representing different facial expressions, from happy to sad, for the customer to rate his or her shopping experience. Yes, I have tapped on one of those faces a couple of times with great satisfaction.  But am I making a difference?

While this simplifies the method of collecting customer feedback, it is only good for reporting sentiment.  The data collected is not linked to what the store did, or did not do to receive that rating.  If in one day a large percentage of shoppers expressed dissatisfaction, how would the store use this information to improve its operations?  That got me thinking…is it the assumption that all customers will leave the store feeling warm and fuzzy?  What is the exact purpose of collecting this data?

This scenario plays out too frequently in current organizations and the learning is clear…Data is only good if used for meaningful change.

Companies invest heavily in big data that is not always used to make process improvements, or leverage best practices.  This simple concept oftentimes gets missed in our data driven world.  Understandably, customers do not appreciate completing a 5-page survey, so organizations need to make feedback simple, but for the data to be meaningful it needs to be relevant to how customer value is delivered.

When I work with clients I sometimes draw on the following parallel to reinforce this concept. Think of a student’s report card as an organizational dashboard.  It is a summary of course marks (metrics) resulting from scores on tests, assignments, projects, presentation (data). Parents assess the marks on the dashboard to make decisions.  If the student is failing, parents will first look at the process leading to the generation of the poor grades.  If the student comes home, plays video games, eats dinner and drowsily crams in homework while on the phone with a friend, the parent may decide to change the sequence.  He or she may stipulate a new process; school, homework, dinner and video games if time allows. If the marks on the report card improve, the process changes worked.  If not, Oxford Learning, or a test of some sort may be the order of the day.

A critical element of a well-executed operational strategy is the alignment of data, metrics and process. It works.  I helped an organization achieve a significant shift in a key metric by first focusing on creating and communicating this alignment.

Here is my task for you. How are you using your data today?  Data needs to tell a story to mobilize a call to action. Is yours?

About the Author: Hazel

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