The Marketing Association’s CX Special Interest Group share their thoughts on three key sessions from Smarter Data Meets CX 2022.

Lessons on Data Transformation
By Carolyn Schofield, Head of Brand at Trustpower

This year’s ‘Smarter Data meets CX’ conference brought together these two interdependent areas for the first time in one conference. The day was kicked off by Camilla Björkqvist, EMEA Director of Commercial Data Strategy and Execution for Johnson & Johnson who joined from Europe by Zoom.

Camilla explored how businesses can transform their data strategies sharing learnings from Johnson & Johnson’s data journey. As with many transformations just knowing where to start can be one of the biggest challenges, especially when it’s common for data leaders to think they have great architectures and platforms, but business leaders don’t trust the data they are given and don’t believe it’s relevant.

Many marketers, particularly in large companies with multiple systems, will be familiar with scenarios where different data sources within a business give different answers to the same question. Even a seemingly simple question like ‘What is a customer?’, may turn out to be contentious. Or data quality may be good but the (un)timeliness of delivery means by the time its available decisions have already been made.

To bring data to the centre of decision making, not only does the data that is really important to a business need to be identified, it needs to be clean, prepared and accessible and a ‘single source of truth’ for each data point needs to be established that is trusted by the business. Finding data owners who are truly accountable for their data is crucial.

An interesting point Camilla raised was that ‘Data problems are people problems in disguise’. Scepticism and lack of trust in data undermine efforts to position data at the heart of a business. Building a data culture requires marketing it in house to build end user confidence. It needs data champions to build awareness and may require training in data literacy and even different ways of working to maximise the effectiveness of the strategy. It also requires commitment from the highest levels in the organisation.

Embarking on a journey of data transformation requires significant time and resources so why should an organisation undertake it? Because at the end of the day without data all of us are just another person with an opinion.

Don’t bring a hunch to a data fight....or should you?
By Briana Millar, Client Experience Manager for Tonkin + Taylor Group

In the ongoing battle for customer loyalty and advocacy, companies are constantly on the look out for the ultimate superpower. But to emerge victorious at a time when “the only thing moving faster than technology is customer expectations” (Greg Whitham, CX Consulting Director, Datacom), is it data or the humble hunch they should be bringing to the game?

Carl Sarney (Head of Strategy, TRA) was joined by a panel of experts at this year’s Smarter Data Meets CX Conference, to answer this question once and for all.

1. Start with the hunch

The panelists agreed that to help shape the direction of an investigation, bringing a hunch to a data fight is a valuable starting point - provided it can be seen for what it is. Sharon Abbott, Head of Data Governance at ANZ recommends teams use some simple questions to keep them on track:

  • How does this link to strategy and objectives?
  • Is this going to give us the answer we need?
  • What does success look like?
  • What else do we need to know to get there?

When following a hunch, it can be easy to be swayed by optimism. To avoid falling into the trap of confirmation bias, Lena Jenkins, GM Data Transformation at Davanti, recommends using data to try and disprove the hunch, “if it still holds up, then you know it’s probably right.” Wadim Schreiner, Head of Customer First and Customer Insights, Countdown agrees, pointing out the importance of holding some scepticism and being prepared to really put that hunch to the test. This is where it’s data’s time to shine, so what might that look like?

2. Validate it with data

Once a hunch has been brought together with the data to prove it, the decision making journey moves beyond just another person with an opinion “It’s not just what you know, it’s what you can prove.” As long as that data is clean, accurate and trustworthy of course.

Sharon knows this all too well. She believes companies need to view data as an asset to be invested in and maintained, with embedded quality practices that are well understood. This does of course, come at a cost, so she recommends that data ownership should sit with someone senior, who has a line of sight to the purse strings; someone who has skin in the game, and who is accountable for its completeness.

Once the data is in tip top shape, companies can use it to effectively manage the human bias. To provide an example, Sebastian Watson, Chapter Lead – Customer Insight at Spark described how the team at Spark are using qualitative data along with sentiment analysis to empower their frontline employees. Their recently trained AI tool (affectionately named Elisabert) analyses what their customers are saying, and objectively identifies which of the seven human emotions are really driving that. For example, what humans might perceive as anger at first glance, could actually be fear and uncertainty – and this needs to be dealt with quite differently. By using AI to explore the underlying feelings of their detractor and neutral customers, their team can better support employees to turn their experience around.

3. Test your thinking and findings with your stakeholders

With the hunch and the data now brought together, it can be tempting to think the job is done. However, sometimes what a customer says and what they actually do, are two quite different things. Wadim cautions “You don’t want to be looking too deep into that data and not into the face of people.” He emphasises the need to get in front of customers after doing the research, to see what they really think “customers don’t live in spreadsheets, and they’re not just wallets waiting to be stretched.” This helps to avoid the wasted time, effort, and potential relationship fallout that comes from making the wrong call. Seb agrees “The customer is the number one stakeholder, so that’s the true test. Unless they can see the value, then none of it really matters!”

So perhaps when it comes to informed decision making, it isn’t as simple as just picking one superpower. The best bet is finding a winning combo: treating a hunch like a hypothesis, validating it with data, and then testing with stakeholders - of which the customer should always be number one.

Creating a roadmap to mature your voice of customer program
By Vaishali Kotian, Digital Comms & Automation Manager, University of Auckland

Melanie Disse from Mercury took us through their journey of how they created their Voice of Customer programme. We were introduced with some key concepts and an overview of customer programmes. VoC in a nutshell – It’s more than just an NPS survey or any customer feedback programmes. It’s about understanding the CX, knowing what’s driving those (insights), and acting on those improvement opportunities.

Melanie explained how different surveys serve different purposes and the importance of choosing the right survey to capture the right customer data. These survey programmes are mainly used to understand more about how we can do better to serve our customers.

She further explained how surveys only give us a small insight of VoC - many people don’t respond, and some choose to provide feedback over negative experiences. At Mercury they decided to expand their lens on what they considered customer feedback. VoC can be anywhere - literally. They started looking at web, social media comments and all their other touchpoints.

They created a framework called Insights to Action - going beyond the traditional survey approach and using technology to capture feedback. Listening to your customers, understanding their feedback, and making it better for their customers. The goal being to listen analyse and act on the customer feedback. One of their learnings was that ‘It’s not fixing what’s broken but picking up what can be improved further.’

The team at Mercury conducted a programme review to find out how they were doing? What’s working well? How they could improve and identify some of the key gaps. But most importantly identify the main purpose behind driving those feedback programmes. They created a maturity assessment and they quickly realised they were at the bottom of the curve.

They created a strategic roadmap and broke it down to bite size projects into two parts - foundational work and tech acceleration. Melanie emphasised that purpose and vision was important when developing a roadmap. Identify who is using the data and the relevant stakeholders. They also chose the right vendors based on their program requirements.

Melanie concluded the presentation explaining how digital customer feedback ties into CX and the strategy piece attached to it. It is to understand what type of information we need and how we are going to use it.

You can read more about the MA’s CX Special Interest Group and the work they do on behalf of the Marketing Association to support CX professionals here.