Reflections : fact + opinion x feel = experience
Here’s a question for you: how authentic are your customers? Do they actually do what they say they will do? Will they actually recommend a product or a service, or just say that they will?
Customers are increasingly seeking a personalised relationship with a company, but to what extent can a company satisfy this need? To achieve real personalisation we have to construct an authentic understanding of a person, and to do this we need facts. These facts are usually derived from behaviours and from analysing the actions that customers have taken previously. But surveying customers on what they ‘would’ do only provides a company with opinions, not facts.
The difficulty in obtaining facts is further complicated by two more issues: effort and data. People are now having to process so much information that they are less and less inclined to invest effort in something that they care little about. Their opinions in response to surveys are likely to be given on the fly, and consequently the quality of these responses will give rise to unreliable data. So how do companies obtain a realistic picture of what is happening and make appropriate decisions in response?
Although facts may be hard to come by, effective decision-making is still possible if a sufficient level of understanding can be achieved. This understanding cannot come from data alone, and even less from a single measure of data - it requires a combination of facts, opinions, feelings, and intuition. Importantly, it requires that we do not mistake opinions for facts.
Businesses now have access to unprecedented levels and sources of data generated by their customers. But data without context is just noise, and data used in isolation will lead to isolated decision-making. To achieve real understanding of a situation, companies need to find out what is actually happening as opposed to what they think is happening. Without a rich picture of opinions to corroborate or challenge survey data, businesses will only find what they are looking for, not what their customers are looking for.
And that’s a fact.