So much data, so little understanding

It has become one of the most widely used business clichés: data is the new natural resource.

This is largely true. The explosion of data in the digital age has provided companies with a historic opportunity to extract all kinds of insights on how to better serve customers. The thinking goes that the data may not always be correct, but it is better than guesswork and opinion.

However, while organizations consume all this data about click and conversion rates, search history, and the number of requests or other preferences that have been coded through apps, websites, or customer service interactions, many don’t realize that they’re making a difficult situation worse.

Shifting to digital experiences for understanding

How is that? With the world turning to primarily digital experiences, companies are already tasked with trying to understand customers they rarely see or talk to. But allowing big data to bypass traditional and personal ways of understanding only increases the distance.

This is how we end up with organizations that claim to be “customer-centric”. However, according to 2021 exploratory study By Harris Poll and data platform provider Redpoint Global, 55 percent of consumers feel they don’t see the brands they interact with, and 48 percent feel undervalued. ouch.

Companies have no choice but to discover the best ways to better understand customers so that they can anticipate and support their needs and deliver exceptional experiences. This is just a market reality.

Consumer expectations, you see, have never been higher. As a result, the digital market is booming with businesses, many of which offer nearly identical products. With so many options, people can take their money elsewhere with just a click of a mouse or the click of a smartphone.

Consumers today compare experiences

In addition, today’s consumers tend to Compare experiences Within the same category and across all the products, services and brands they encounter. For example, when consumers buy clothes online, they can compare the experience with the experience they’ve booked at a restaurant via an app. They are different beasts, but the consumer does not care: they expect the same quality.

The main distinguishing factor and driver of loyalty in the digital economy has become the customer experience. Do they feel understood and appreciated on a personal level? Can they create a new account seamlessly? Is the application easy, useful and fun?

Customers love the best experiences even at a higher cost

Research shows that customers constantly flock to companies that offer them exhilarating experiences and remain loyal to those companies once a connection is made—sometimes, even if another company offers similar products at lower cost or delivers faster. Usually the business with the best experience wins and creates a true connection.

Keeping up with these unprecedented customer demands is stressful and costly, which is why many organizations have chosen to take advantage of their vast stores of carefully collected customer data.

Doing so feels efficient, and many business leaders have been conditioned to believe that numbers are all they need to make sound business decisions. So, company after company has spent big bucks creating massive data-gathering and analysis machines, and then they trust only the numbers.

But there is a problem: customer data gives an incomplete picture.

some examples:

Analytics sheds light on observable customer activity, such as what the customer is doing with a product or experience, which can help identify patterns and areas to address. But it does not allow for an accurate and emotional understanding of what it is like to be a client. Seeing customers as data points rather than humans means that companies can only make informed guesses about what customers have in mind…and they might guess wrong.

The world of B2B and CRM systems

In the B2B world, CRM systems They are most commonly used to answer the question “What do I do with my client?” Most companies cannot function without these tools for managing customer information and relationships. The pitfall is that these systems provide information about customers exclusively from the company’s perspective.

They do not collect information from users, so everything is viewed through the lens of the company, which is self-serving and contradicts customer centricity.


And what about those? Consumer surveys Constantly asking to fill out? These can provide insight into how the customer feels about their experience. However, surveys can be problematic for several reasons, such as investigative fatigue that limits returns, generalized responses that lack the kind of accurate feedback that can be revealing, and even the potential for bots to hack online surveys.

The missing perspective in these technologies: what it’s like to be in the client’s place. None of them go deep enough or provide a broad enough perspective to give the company a deep and honest understanding of what attracts and secures loyalty from real, living people.

Will the actual customer stand up please?

Companies need to pair data with authenticity, Personal customer perspectives To assemble a complete picture of multidimensional human agents.

This requires building customer experience narratives that includes observing and occasionally talking to customers, listening to what they have to say and how they say it (emotions, speed, intonation), noting facial expressions, body language, and any other human cues that demonstrate delight. frustration and motivation.

In the digital age when consumers have seemingly endless options and extraordinary power, a company’s ability to see the humans for whom it creates experiences is what sets them apart from competitors.

Without it, companies risk building products no one wants, making ill-informed decisions about existing offerings, and becoming increasingly disconnected from the people they serve.


To be clear, data alone won’t help with reinforcement Unforgettable customer experiences. Data may help give the big picture – generally in the form of trends and patterns – but customer narrative inputs add color and context and give a human perspective based solely on numbers it cannot.

Featured Image Credits: Photography by Ryutaro Tsukata; Pixels. Thank you!

Andy MacMillan

Andy MacMillan

Andy is the CEO of UserTesting and oversees the strategic direction of the company. Prior to joining UserTesting, he was CEO of Act-On Software. Andy has also held several senior leadership positions at Salesforce, including Chief Operating Officer of the Product Division and Senior Vice President and General Manager of

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