While participating in another live #custserv chat on Twitter this 28th, I have been intrigued by this post from HBR blog that was shared by @ValaAfshar – What Data Can’t Tell You About Customers. How often do businesses really understand customers in a human level, and treat them not just some bunch of numbers? There are vast amounts of information created these days that are supposed to help in business and customer intelligence. Big data is fast becoming a household name where tech is concerned. While these data can expose patterns in consumer behavior, the real issue is that it only shows you the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to scratch beneath the surface.
The Curse of Information Overload
Our brains are equipped to handle just enough information before it reaches a breaking point. Why does this even matter? While new tools are created to aid in the gathering and analysis of consumer data where your product or service is concerned, studies suggest that you can only handle a few key details. This means that too much information can lead you to making bad choices and decisions which will carry a detrimental effect to your business. Though these data mined can be presented in some vanity metrics made to impress, that doesn’t mean what you see will be interpreted correctly. You only have the what, where, when and how of things, but you are missing the most important link of them all – Why do your customers made those choices?
Do You Really Know Your Customers that Well?
In the race to automate the data gathering and interpretation process, we often neglect connecting with customers on a deeper level. Understanding people is something that’s still a hit-or-miss among many businesses. Customers are not just a token of transaction; you have to build trust and strengthen relationship with them to inspire brand loyalty as well. The real issue here is that when we do surveys about our customers, we over-analyze things and assume that some factors weigh more than the rest. This is why we see certain images or words in abstract things because our minds are designed to fill in the gap. We can get carried away with the research we do, where we tend to emphasize minor details and irrelevant data. The more we do this, the more we push ourselves away from getting to know our customers and hitting our goals right.
Data Don’t Lie.. But Perceptions Do
A perfect example how data misinterpretation can happen is the unemployment rate. Governments may boast of lowering down the statistics, but if you ask those who are out job hunting, you might get a sneer. When Oracle shared its report, From Overload to Impact: An Industry Scorecard on Big Data Business Challenges , it is quite alarming that executives are saying they’re unprepared to handle the increase in data they gather. Is it a surprise that businesses are losing revenue because they are challenged when it comes to managing and analyzing these huge amounts of info? The numbers can be right.. but the way we interpret these are influenced by our beliefs, culture and external factors. It’s like trying to decipher planets from stars just by gazing at the clear, night sky with our naked eyes.
How do you separate what really matters from all of that data noise? Perhaps, it’s time to rewire your brain and start on a clean slate..