The Effective Executive – Don’t Rely on IT Data for Customer Insights



Veteran, new and aspiring executives need methods to be successful in their organization. There are 1000s of leadership podcasts, videos, blogs, and articles but few authors address what to do or how to do it.

We have witnessed many executives who are efficient (doing things right), but few executives are effective (doing the right things). We believe this is misguided and aim to remedy the shortfall with executives.

This is the 26th episode of the Effective Executive podcast. In this episode, Tripp Babbitt how IT data are unreliable for customer insights.  Download our Effective Executive Starter Kit.
Resources mentioned in this episode:

Show Notes

The Effective Executive – Episode 26

Episode 26 – Don’t Rely on IT Data for Customer Insights

Contact Center Problems

Executives Need to Spend Time Listening to Customers

Getting Context of the Data

Building a System Map as a Touchstone



[00:00:02] This week on the Effective Executive podcast and for the YouTube channel that I’m recording this for, I’m going to talk about a couple of things. But I also want to start with an announcement, which is last week I had discussed putting a video together on YouTube. I finished that actually this morning, took a little bit longer than I expected it might. But that’s OK. I think it’s pretty good. And the tool that I want executives to become familiar with is the SPC tool. And so you’ll find it in the YouTube channel under getting started. I think it’s that important. It’s one of three videos that I have out and getting started and becoming an effective executive, the first one being the difference between being an efficient and effective executive, difference between analytical and synthetic thinking, and then statistical process control is a huge element of this. And as I say in the video multiple times, it’s a tool not being used by executives. It’s not being used in general by organizations. So if you’re looking for competitive advantage, either for your career or for your organization, using statistical process control will help you not only make better decisions, but it’s the only way I have found that you can tell whether things are getting better or not with data. It’s that impactful. And yet I go in to speak with executives and I ask him about it and some of them aren’t familiar with it. Some of them have heard of it. Isn’t that for the front line? What does it have to do with me? Those are the types of questions I’ll typically get.


[00:02:02] But it’s something, to be honest with you, everybody should use. If anybody’s using data and you’re not using a time series data over time, you should be using statistical process control. It can help you, like I said, make better decisions, use data effectively and kind of well, it’s going to help you take just data information into knowledge. So that’s all I’ll say about that. I do have a tool available for purchase if you’re interested in it there. You know, software is expensive for SPC, for God knows what reason, but I’m making it fifty dollars. You typically you’re going to find it, you know, around three hundred dollars on up for SBC. And I just don’t think executives need anything that robust for the types of data that you’re going to be looking at. So it’s available at the ninety five method dotcom forward slash data tool, all one word. And so that’s all I’ll say about that. But I do encourage you to go out and listen to and watch the video. It’s 18 minutes long. I tried to make it shorter, but to cover all the bases, the basic things I thought were important to understand for an executive, it took me eighteen minutes. So there you go.


[00:03:24] OK, this week, the message is don’t rely on it. Data for customer insights now. A lot of large organizations, and especially most large organizations, be they service or manufacturing, a lot of manufacturing, outsources their contact centers for their customers to call in. I don’t always think that’s a good idea, but that’s the way the world has with our analytical thinking and breaking the pieces apart.


[00:03:59] And I don’t do that very well. So outsource it. You don’t want to be outsourcing your contact with customers, in my opinion. But contact center, you know, when I work with them, what you’ll find is they’ll close out a call and they’re suppost. When they close out the call, they’ll have software of some sort from some company and they’ll have categories and sometimes their default categories or categories of what the call was supposed to be about. And like I said, sometimes there are default categories that the I.T. company has given you. Sometimes they’re built by the I.T. people, maybe in your organization or that you outsource to or maybe experts that are putting together these categories. Rarely do I find that these categories to close out a call and kind of place it into what type of call, it was not done by the contact center agents, and that is a huge mistake. So the I.T. data that you get out of your IT systems is often useless. And if you want to confirm it within your organization, if the data that you’re getting on your spreadsheet says, you know, the number one category of the call type, it was is miscellaneous or other, then you know that you don’t have very good information and that the contact center and agents need to be putting this information together. And you as an executive should be very familiar with these data, which I’ll talk through as we go as we go on now.


[00:05:48] What an executive should be doing is spending time in front of the customer listening either at a contact center or the interactions with salespeople or whatever it is, and you’re going to get a view that may be much different than being fed to you through from other parts of the organization. And just to let you know, I mean, our brains are not wired to be convinced by others or data. So, you know, if you’ve ever had a position on something you’ve held for a long period of time, you aren’t going to change your mind or someone else isn’t going to change your mind. Data isn’t necessarily going to change your mind. What will change your mind is your ability to see for yourself what’s going on between the customer and the front line. And it’s so important. This is why I suggest to executives they need to spend 10 to 20 percent of the time listening to customers because you’re going to get the insights that you wouldn’t get by just putting up some spreadsheet. And, you know, you’re going to make all sorts of assumptions about what the data is telling you. And you ask five different executives and give them the same data sometimes. And I’ll say, OK, what are these data telling you? And they’re like, it’s telling me this, which is much different than the executives, the executive whose office I just left.


[00:07:26] So you’ve got to get context associated with it. So that’s kind of the the third thing, which is this these anecdotal types of things you get in meetings, executive meetings I’ve heard over the years participating and in them. And that is, you know, somebody will say, oh, the customer believes this. And, you know, me being me, I challenge that. How did you conclude that the executive or the customer believes that sometimes it’s from data, sometimes it’s from some person told them, sometimes from their own experience they had 50 years ago, or even if it’s two years ago, even if it’s six months ago, things change very quickly nowadays with regards to customers and what’s going on with them. So you got to get the context of the data to be able to have a discussion and to make decisions off of what what the data are actually telling you. And again, 10 to 20 percent of your time as executive to me is a bare minimum to go out and listen, get enough knowledge about it. Now, I want to emphasize also why you’re listening, what’s important to the customer, right?


[00:08:55] This is what some of the things that you should be gleaning off of it. And I go through this in my executive education program. I give you a method to go through this process so that when you go and let’s say you go to a contact center, that you can look through a customer lens and you can do it on your own. And I usually suggest that executives do it on their own before they involve their team just to get a get a sense of what’s going on. But you can do it with your team. It doesn’t. Does it necessarily matter? Maybe have a close, very close knit team. But you could you and or your team can take you step by step of things you can do in order to get insights through what the customer’s looking at. Now, this begins to build what I call a system map. So we’re talking about building synthetic thinking in executives. That is not natural. You have to learn it. And the best way for you to learn it is studying your own organization, studying Toyota or Disney or whatever else may be helpful and learning the tool. But you are going to get more insight, obviously, studying your own organization. And so the first part of building a system map of your organization is looking through that customer lens.


[00:10:18] And then I’ve built what I call a thinking lens. You go through to understand why do you do the things that you do when you interact with customers is give you a complete picture of your organization at very high level. But enough detail that you can get into to get insights and develop new theories about the way maybe that the company could operate better. And it becomes a touchstone. If you build one of these system maps, you guys will always be talking about it and adjusting it and updating it and doing those types of things. You need that touchstone to kind of ground yourself and the customer and not make guesses about what the customer is telling you when you look at it data or, you know, mind for data and all the words that are used today. Data needs context. And in order to get that context, have a method. I’ve got a method. You may have something different and that’s fine, but I have a method that will walk you through step by step. So that’s what I wanted to cover this week. I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to watch the YouTube channel and.


[00:11:39] You know, the tool SPC tool us so important. I’m sorry that the video was 18 minutes long, but like I said, when you watch it, I don’t think you’ll think there’s a lot of fluff in there. I went through succinctly as possible to kind of take you through from beginning to end. That’s it for this week. I’ll talk to you next Monday or potentially see you next Monday.


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