The Case for the Customer Experience Data Researcher

It’s a shame that the term “outsider” tends to carry such negative connotations. When it comes to journey analytics, outsider may just be the perfect job description for the person in your company who has the most insight to offer.

Your company likely already knows all about insiders’ views. They come every day in reports from the data warehouse, marketing, support, the web team, the mobile team, and billing. The person responsible for collecting data for the reports captures exactly what they are supposed to: accumulated data points needed to run a report that yields a metric. They can, for example, tell you exactly the number and types of transactions that occurred at a particular ATM on a given day.

But your customer’s experience is all about interactions, not just transactions. What is missing in the transaction report is an explanation of the sequence of events and behaviors that, for example, might lead a bank customer to enter their PIN twice, check their balance, visit three other screens, retrieve their card, and then make a withdrawal with a teller inside the branch.

Journey analytics seeks to reveal the full story. What can it tell us about that person? About the ATM experience? About the company? Tallied data points from your warehouse are good. The ability to observe how a particular data point was captured in the first place, to find out more about what else could be captured, and to learn how it all impacts the customer experience (CX) is even better.

This is where an outsider, who I’ll call a CX data researcher, has an important advantage. The CX data researcher’s job is data discovery across all systems from the perspective of the customer. This person, who may not actually be an outsider in terms of their work at your company, seeks to locate new data in unexpected places that add depth and nuance to the journey story.

CX data researchers aren’t looking for answers within one department. They set up discussions with many departments, digging down to find fundamental causes that led to that interesting data point. They ask questions, lots of questions, and often questions that would not occur to someone within a department whose very job is to have specific expertise. Within a large enterprise, the CX data researcher is willing to ask questions about one particular page on a website that has an impact on customers. As they dig, the CX data researcher will speak with individual SMEs who may have no knowledge of each other, all in a search for answers.

A propensity for posing layman’s questions is not to suggest that the CX data researcher is inexpert. The role demands someone senior with knowledge and history. The CX data researcher has a top-level perspective of the company. In many cases, CX data researchers report to a C-level person who owns the customer experience.

The role is tightly coupled with IT, which provides tools and information, but it is certainly not of IT. In fact, knowledge of systems architecture will help them to understand how platforms talk to each other. This gives better visibility into potential data collection points and the reach of those systems’ visibility into the interactions. At the same time, they need a strong sense of how the business operates and what matters to it. The job also requires sufficient authority to not only ask the questions but to demand results and not get stuck in a queue when critical information is needed. The CX data researcher’s mandate enables them to shrug off natural internal resistance from people in departments who might not appreciate someone asking seemingly odd questions about the good work they do.

The CX data researcher is there to answer the big question, “What needs to happen in order for us to grow as a company?” That requires an outsider’s wider perspective, along with access to information wherever it resides, and the ability to drive action based on what is revealed by looking at journeys.

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Written by Tony Lehtola

Tony Lehtola is the Director of Journey Design at ClickFox. In this role, Tony educates Information and Data Architects at ClickFox and Partners on Journey design best practices and ensures future product design meets the needs of Journey data teams everywhere. In his 6+ years at ClickFox, he established the Information Architecture practice and built the team that today enables clients to translate their established data stores into the proven elements for Journey analytics.

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