Seeing the Whole Elephant: Enterprise Intelligence vs. Customer Feedback

By: Lisa Sigler

March 10, 2015

customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback

In December, the Temkin Group released an Insight Report titled, “The Future of Customer Experience Insights: Five Trends That Will Redefine the Role and Value of Customer Feedback and Insights.”  The trends outlined in the report give organizations a roadmap to follow to get the most value out of their Voice of the Customer programs.  We’ve already looked at the first four trends outlined in the report: Empathy vs. Metrics, Continuous Insights, Following the Customer Journey, and Being Prescriptive, not Descriptive.


Trend #5: Enterprise Intelligence, Not Customer Feedback

There’s an old parable about several blind scholars who attempt to describe an elephant. The one who touches the elephant’s leg thinks it is like a pillar; the one who touches the trunk describes the elephant as being like a snake, and so on. Each of the scholars describes what he is experiencing accurately, but none of them can comprehend the whole animal.

Your customer insights team has the same problem – a limited perspective. This is particularly true if you are only looking at customer feedback instead of looking at every source of data available. It is easy to draw mistaken conclusions if you aren’t looking from every angle. You can miss insights entirely, or misinterpret what you find. This can even cause conflict among your internal departments if you start making action plans based on lop-sided data: in English poet John Godfrey Saxe’s version of the elephant parable, the blind scholars start arguing about their conclusions, “Though each was partly in the right, /And all were in the wrong!”

Instead of arguing, or planning actions based on the wrong conclusions, it is better to get an Enterprise-wide view of your customers by analyzing different kinds of data. The Temkin Group suggests ways to use five additional sources besides customer feedback to help you to see the whole elephant.

Embrace the voice of employees. Your employees have valuable insights about your operations, your customers, and your products. Implementing a formal Voice of the Employee program provides a mechanism for capturing those insights. It also has the added benefit of making employees feel more engaged when you ask for, and act on, their ideas.

Mine contact center interactions. When customers call or email your contact center, it gives you an opportunity to learn about their concerns and improve their perception of your brand. Using speech analytics is an efficient way to capture those insights.

Link data across systems. Data shouldn’t be analyzed in silos if you want a comprehensive view – you need to combine it all. This gives you the full context and allows you to make better decisions. For example, combining CRM data and CEM data provide a real-time context for providing customer service.

Learn from partners. If you have a strong network of business partners, you can leverage the insights and listening posts of your partners to learn more about your customers. In addition, you can ask your partners for their own insights about you and your products and services directly through partner surveys.

Monitor industry insights.  Looking at market research, overall industry activity, and the competitive landscape provides insights from yet another perspective. Keep tabs on industry analysts, competitors, and technology and social media trends to stay ahead of shifts in customer wants and needs.

Your elephant’s trunk isn’t really a snake, and your customer feedback doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. Become a wise scholar of customer insights, with a full perspective of the customer experience beast.

Lisa Sigler is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Clarabridge. For over 16 years, Lisa has used her writing and editorial skills to bring the value and benefits of technology to life. In her current role, she works to demonstrate Clarabridge’s position as thought leader and trailblazer in the Customer Experience Management market. Lisa holds a B.A. of English from Kent State University. Read more from Lisa on Twitter @siglerLis.