DATA 101: Connecting More Than Systems

Tracy Borreson on July 20, 2016

In the scope of our normal, everyday business, we are always looking for that critical “single-view” of our customers. To this end, we take in massive amounts of data and try to string them all together into data insights that makes sense; and because we have worked so long, and hard, focusing on mapping this data, we immediately think that the best way to make the analysis easier is to connect to our systems.

API’s, or other data connections, can allow your data to flow freely between systems; which is a key feature in allowing us to compile all of our data. BUT there are dangers in configuring these systems if you do not know:

  1. Your ideal data flow, and
  2. The type of insights you are trying to obtain.

Hopefully, this blog will help you address these two items, allowing you to make the most of your API!

  1. Understanding Your Ideal Data Flow.

Data is hitting your systems all the time - from brick and mortar transactions, to online customer searches. Although getting all of this data into a central place is super important, it is MORE important to identify what information can be used best at what time and in what situation.

For example, the fact that Customer #1 did an online search for one of your products, is highly useful in targeting them with banner ads, but it’s NOT specifically useful in helping you understand their delivery experience on their last purchase. When we talk about how data flows, we are taking about the map of where data is collected to where (and when) it is going to be used.

The best practices for determining your ideal data flow? Create a Customer Journey Map! Find out more on Customer Journey Maps here.

  1. Defining Your Required Insights

This activity is then driven by your Customer Journey Map and your data flow. Remember the scenario above, about Customer #1’s search info being useful in targeting banners ads, but not understanding customer experience? These are questions that you need to ask BEFORE starting to collect your data. Below are some more sample questions that can help you identify what insights you really desire:

  • I need to understand my customer experience: what was my customer’s satisfaction level BEFORE an interaction? What was it after? What type of scale should I use? Should I use only numbers? Or should I collect free-form comments? How will I manage any free-form comments? At which touch points do I want to ensure I had a great interaction?
  • I need to know how to target my banner ads: What are my current customers searching for? Where else are they searching for things on the web? What type of survey could I use to obtain this information? What type of visuals get more traffic on my current site?
  • I need to understand which of my clients are my best customers: How do I connect my transaction data to my marketing programs? How can I identify which programs are driving which customers? What makes an ideal customer for my brand (number of transactions, transaction value, frequency of transactions, etc.)? When do these customers interact with my brand? Through which channels? What experiences are they having that less valuable customers are not? How can we provide the potentially valuable customers with more of these experiences?

The list goes on and on. But one thing is for sure, you need to know the questions you are asking, before you can answer them strategically.

Connecting the Dots

The lesson that I would like to emphasize in this post is that it is not ONLY data that we need to look at connecting; it is ALL the dots that make a valuable insight. Although the data is an important starting point; and buy-in for this connection is important, we need to ensure that we don’t stop there!

Questions on how to connect the dots? Contact SPLICE’s Customer Experience Data Strategist, Jenna!