When you ask an analyst a question, ideally it’s met with several in return. That’s because good analysts are inquisitive not just about what you want to determine, but why you’re looking for a quantitative answer. A healthy dialog between you and an analyst will lead to much better analysis and even more importantly, that analysis will come with much better insights. So rather than just sending an analyst off to crunch numbers and produce a figure for you as an output, it’s usually best to chat with him or her a little about what you’re trying to accomplish.
The first question I ask when I’m presented with an opportunity to do some analysis for a client is, “What are you planning to do with the insights this analysis provides?”
That’s for two reasons:
- It offers parameters and scope and helps guide how to do the analysis, and
- It offers insights into how serious the potential client is
That first reason is what I was just talking about: Any mediocre analyst can chase after your numbers and twist them any way you’d like, giving you (careful, here!) exactly what you ask for. But sometimes what you ask for can be interpreted in different ways, even within the same organization, and having nothing (necessarily) to do with differing goals or priorities or values. It’s just as simple as digging deeper or looking at numbers differently.
A better understanding about what you’re trying to solve is more helpful to an analysis than simply which number you’re looking to find.
I realize it may sound like a trick question when someone asks me about a number and my response is, “Well, it depends on what the analysis tells us…” It’s not like you’re trying to reverse-engineer the outcome. But fundamentally there needs to be an idea of what sort of question you’re trying to answer (and why) if the data is going to guide you with regard the actual solution. Don’t think just because you want to know this or that number that it’s the best way to go about solving the issue at hand. Have a conversation with your analysts…they may have more insight than you think.
As for that second reason, it’s always been the case but has become even more prominent as I’ve spent more time in the CX field. Often when I respond to a business leader who’s simply asking me for a number by probing for more of a reason, it becomes pretty clear that he or she isn’t really interested in CX per se…just what the “CX number” is. Here we’re just producing numbers for their own sake, or even worse, analyzing meaningless numbers so we can say that we’re “doing CX”.
That’s a huge red flag for me…fortunately the potential client usually sees red flags as well, as I’m not going to be the sort of partner who’ll be satisfied with simply chasing after numbers. So at least it’s mutual. If you’re bringing in someone from the outside (by the way, good for you!) to help you with your Customer Experience efforts and then kind of fold under some probing and digging a bit deeper, there are tons of other folks who’ll gladly take your money.
But there’s also a parallel with something I see all over the place: Brands “doing CX” for its own sake rather than focusing on ways to improve (which should be the goal of CX). That shows up often in practice when a company considers their Voice of the Customer program (usually, in a case like this, nothing more than a meaningless NPS survey sent out after an interaction) to be the Über alles of their CX program. It’s no surprise then, that they don’t want to dig much deeper than that top-level KPI. “Show me what the number is,” they may say, but do something with it? That’s too much trouble.