How much data do we have? Are we collecting the right data? Whose analyzing the data? How many systems does it live in? Are the systems linked? Is the data even accurate? And finally, can we actually do anything with all of it?

I avoid the word data as much as I avoid four letter words when I’m around my parents and yet it’s one of those things you just can’t seem to shake.

What are the best ways to collect data?

Data is a collection of facts, figures, objects, and events that have been gathered from different sources. Organizations collect data with the intent of making better decisions with seemingly infinite possibilities when it comes to how to collect the data.

From customer satisfaction surveys, the infamous NPS, customer feedback surveys and Customer Experience programs there is a plethora of question types, pre-made survey templates and services that can get your started.

Implementing a Customer Experience (CX) program or a feedback survey will provide you with both good and bad feedback. Valuable, constructive feedback will not only reveal what you are good at, but will also depict what you could be better at. Now that you have seen things that you are good at and areas needing improvement, it’s the right time to implement change by considering the feedback insights.

How much is too much?

Yes, there is a thing as too much data. First, just don’t collect the data if you have no intent on using it. Use being the keyword here. I know that sounds harsh, but while we all have good intentions when we send out those surveys or ask for that review, what use are you really going to get out of asking a single question one time.

If there is one thing I have learned wading into the Market Research world is that intent, along with preplanning, is what sets researchers and companies up for the greatest long-term success.

What problem are you solving for? How does your CX program or Research program fit into the long-term company goals and vision? Is there buy-in from those in positions to make change actually do something with the analysis? Data is meant to be used. Broken down, analyzed, and most importantly, used to create action. Without action, what’s the point in collecting all that data if you aren’t going to use it!

I know what you might be thinking, “we might use it someday…” that’s also what my mom says about her wedding china. My parents will be married 47 years this fall. We’ve never used that china.

Implementing change with your new insights

Improve your customers’ experience. Customer experience can be defined as the interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of the relationship. How long that relationship lasts, how healthy it is, and what you each can take away from it so often can be seen and improved on. Every customer will come with a unique insight that can totally refine your customer experience. Even if your customers are happy, you should interact with them to figure out what made their customer experience great, what worked best for them, the 3 key reasons they would recommend your brand, etc.

Build your company’s future roadmap

One of the most underrated uses is often how the data can guide a company’s future. Are you a startup planning your next feature build-outs? Or a legacy company looking to connect with a larger audience of customers? What are you hearing from customers continuously over time that they would like to see in your product, platform, or offering.  What customers say about your product’s features and updates is pertinent information that must be shared with your product development team. These inputs are crucial to improve your current products and services and any offerings that you might be developing. Their feedback will give you insights into making your product or service effective, successful, and better than your competitors. Your customers will buy your new offerings based on your existing relations; why not take their inputs when designing and developing new products?

If you feel overwhelmed or like you need to start doing something now because something is better than nothing, remember to always come back to your intention. Where are you trying to go, and what is a simple plan to get there. You don’t have to be overwhelmed and create something huge from the start. Take one step at a time. Often simplicity can be a strength when it comes to customer experience and data collection.

Crystal Wiese is a Director, Marketing at QuestionPro based in Dallas, Texas.