How to Measure and Still Get It All Wrong

February 23rd, 2009   •   no comments   

We’re Measuring Because We Can; Not Because It’s the Right Thing to Do
When it comes to customer preferences, or anyone’s preferences for that matter, we’re getting it wrong. And, of course, spending a lot of money along the way. Surveys. Hrumph.
The methods used today for measuring, let’s say, customer satisfaction, while quite modern, produce archaic results. All I see these days are surveys, endless surveys, and analysts, with green translucent shades, like accountants of old, poring over the data, trying to glean something useful.

The outcome are a set of data points that suggest some problem or opportunity. (We’d be shocked to have a survey where we reinforced what we were doing well: lions and tigers and bears, oh my.) The analysts, with their green shades, filter this information back to management — who have their own political spin on the data — and, then, some new program is formulated. Is it really all that complicated? Obviously, I don’t think so.

Oh, the new program: it’s usually a set of procedures, policies, methods that has to be “taught” to the rank and file. Mind you, these folks may not be geniuses but they suspect that the analysts were able to pick and choose what “data points” they wanted to mine. They also suspect that management was able to add their own “political spin” to the mix. So, they’re not really “sold” on any of the ideas that are being proposed or changes that are recommended; they’re half-hearted actors in this drama: not a convincing performance will they give.

So, if I’m so smart, what would I do? Well, first, I’d be clear about what I’m after: I’m after changed behaviors and policies in the company. With that in mind, I want to shrink the time and manipulation of any information (some of it could be data) that we might collect. So, I’d get rid of the analysts and turn them into teachers: they would teach the “rank and file” how to collect information from their customers — all of their customers: internal, external. Whoever they might be.

I would, through my new trainers, help the workers understand why and how to collect the information that’s needed to assess customer satisfaction. And, then, I would give them the tools to make selections about which information they ought to act on — you know, related to costs, risks, etc. I would provide an environment in which they were more likely to engage in experimentation to find out what works. Instead of an academic, theoretical approach to making decisions.

I would, through this kind of process, shortcut the point in time and space from the receipt of information about satisfaction to the point in space and time where we act on it, do something different. Or, just as a silly idea, perhaps do more of the same.

It was a thrilling experience to meet the author of the book that we had been reading all semester

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