I started out as an analytics guy thinking that all of the important answers were in the numbers. The answers were waiting to be found but were concealed in the data and just needed to be released by a good regression or other type of statistical analysis. Over time, I became more experienced and learned what types of answers I could look for in data sets.
I learned that data was helpful for justifying, improving, and discovering. I could use data to justify certain courses of action like increasing the price of products for higher profits. I could use data to improve services by comparing the impact of different actions (i.e. A/B tests). I also could use data to discover patterns of behaviour, for example, buying patterns that could impact bundle offers and inventory needs.
However, these answers don’t provide all the important information needed to manage a business or drive results. Data analysis is poor at uncovering the context, attitudes, and motivations of customers and their behaviours such as the psychological and sociological factors that impact a service experience.
What we learn from companies such as Nest and Beats by Dre is that creating an emotionally engaging experience for customers is important. A smart thermostat and premium headphones were not revelations to the market. But the connection they made with their customers was a key factor in helping these companies take market share from their competition.
A useful tool for analyzing psychological and sociological connections is design – customer experience or service design. It is about dissecting and understanding the way touchpoints impact your customer to provide a service experience. Where are the emotional highs and lows? What is the flow of touchpoints? Are we finishing on a high to help drive loyalty? Do we feel confident that we have developed our touchpoints to create a memorable service experience? Something that registers as meaningful, becomes desirable and ultimately needs to be repeated. One more ride around the rollercoaster, please.
Design and analytics provide a complementary set of tools that a business can use to design experiences. The challenge at this point is to combine both at scale for enterprise results. Enterprises have advanced the analytics agenda and are now seeing the need to flex their design skills which is one of the main reasons why teams are forming to focus on customer experience and service design. The challenging part will be integrating design and analytics to deliver better experiences.
My current company Impact Signal is taking the lessons learned from design focussed firms and analytics focussed firms to deliver a combined approach that blends the best from each.