So Much Data, So Little Understanding

It has become a business cliché that is all too familiar: Data is becoming the new natural resource.

It’s also true to a large extent. The digital era’s massive data explosion has provided businesses with a rare opportunity to gather valuable insights about customers and how to best serve them. Data may not always be right, but it’s better that guesswork and intuition.

Yet, most organizations don’t realize that they’re only making things worse.

Digital Experiences for Understanding

How do we make this happen? As we move towards digital experiences, companies will be expected to better understand their customers. Big data cannot replace traditional and personal methods for understanding people. This only increases the distance.

This is how we end with organizations claiming that their customer-centric approach is effective. Ouch.

Companies are forced to identify the best ways for customers to better understand them so that they can support and anticipate their needs, and offer exceptional customer experiences. That’s the market reality.

Consumer expectations have never been higher, you will see. Digital marketplace is filled with many businesses that offer virtually identical products. With so many options available, users can transfer their money anywhere they want with a simple click or swipe of their smartphone.

Consumers Compare Experiences Today

Consumers will often compare their experiences with other brands and products in the same category. Consumers may, for example, compare clothing they purchase online with what they get when they book a meal at a restaurant using an app. They may look different but the consumer doesn’t seem to care. He expects the same quality.

The customer experience is the key differentiation and loyalty driver of the digital economy. Do they feel valued? Can they easily set up a brand new account? Is the app user-friendly, informative, and enjoyable.

Customers are attracted to the Best Experiences even at a More Expensive Price

Research shows that customers tend to choose to do business with businesses that provide a pleasant experience. This is true even if the company delivers similar products faster or costs less. The business that creates a connection and provides the best experience usually wins.

It is expensive and difficult to keep up in the face of these new customer demands. This is why many organizations have decided to tap into their large stockpiles, which include carefully collected customer information.

Doing so feels productive, and many business leaders believe that numbers are all they require to make informed business decisions. So many companies have spent significant amounts to develop sophisticated data collection tools and analysis machinery. But then, they just trust the numbers.

But there’s an issue: Customer data can only provide a partial picture.

Here are some examples

Analytics can shed light on customer behavior. It allows for customers to be observable and helps identify patterns. Analytics do not enable a deeper, more emotional understanding of customers. Companies cannot see customers as human beings but only as data points.

The B2B World and CRM Systems

CRM systems are often used in B2B business to answer the question “What’s my customer doing?”. Most businesses simply can’t operate without these tools. These systems can only offer information about customers from the company’s view.

They don’t get information from users. So everything is viewed by the company lens. This is self-serving.


What about those surveys that are always requested? These surveys can provide insight into the customer’s feelings about their experience. Still, surveys are not without their problems. This includes survey fatigue that reduces returns, generalized feedback lacking the kind that can be revelatory, as well as bots infiltrating your online surveys.

These techniques do not offer a complete view of the real world. None of these perspectives are deep enough to give a business an authentic understanding of what inspires and keeps people loyal.

Will the Actual Customer Please Stand up?

For companies to have a complete picture, they must pair data with genuine, authentic customer perspectives.

Building customer experience narratives involves observing and conversing with customers. It also requires noticing facial expressions and body movements.

A company’s ability and willingness to recognize the needs of those they’re creating experiences for is what sets it apart from its competitors in this digital age.

Businesses can’t risk making products no-one wants, making uninformed business decisions about existing offerings, or becoming disconnected from the people who serve them.


We need to be clear: data alone is not enough to create unforgettable customer experiences. Data is useful in providing a broad picture of the market, usually in the form patterns and trends. However, customer narratives can add depth and color to the picture.