This is the fifth installation in our Experience Over Everything series.

The term “experience economy” was first used by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore in the 1998 article, Welcome to the Experience Economy. In the experience economy, the memory or experience that businesses create for customers is the product.

Experience businesses charge for the feeling customers have, unlike commodity, goods, and services businesses that charge for resources, products, and activities.The experience economy extends beyond selling memories and feelings; it includes selling the way commodities, goods, and services are purchased, delivered, and used.

In this way, the experience economy and best practices for it actually apply to every business.

More businesses than ever before are selling experiences and focusing on delivering experiences. Even if you don’t think you’re selling an experience, consumers have come to expect one from every one of their interactions with businesses, and there is more data than ever before by which to gauge the perceived quality of those experiences.

Social media. Online reviews. Purchase history. Web activity. Search history. Voice data. Mobile data. Travel history. Location data. Device usage. Screen time. The list goes on and on.

Thriving in the experience economy means accessing as much of that data as possible and making it actionable.

Collecting Customer Experience Data

As businesses, we have many tools available for collecting customer data including surveys, interviews, and observation. It’s important to identify key moments in the customer journey to use those tools. From there, we have to determine the right people and equip them with the technologies and methodologies to collect the data.

While it’s great to conduct research to better understand customers, it’s even better to collect data in real time. There are many tools available to collect data in real time: social listening platforms, product usage tracking, topic and sentiment analysis for voice and chat.

1. Identify existing research activities

The best way to start is by identifying existing research activities. Who in your company, department, or team is conducting surveys and interviews? Who is in the field observing customers? When and how often are they doing this? What are their methodologies? 2. Identify data you’re able to collect Next, identify data that you’re able to collect from customers. What data are you collecting? Is it pushed automatically or harvested? How often does this happen? When? Where?

2. Overlay on customer journey map(s)

After that, map your customer journey(ies) and plot critical research and data collection points along that journey. Are these research activities and data collection points where you want them to be? Is there any data you’re not collecting? Are there any knowledge gaps?

3. Develop a customer data collection plan

Lastly, put together a plan to collect all of the data you need. Who should be doing the work? When and how? What technologies and platforms should be used?

Making Customer Data Actionable

Once you have a solid plan in place to collect customer data, you need to align and collaborate on a plan for how you’re going to use this data.

1. Align on the desired business impact

Meet with key stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss the high-level business goals and identify goals where greater access to customer data can help. What value can this data add?

2. Identify people who need the data

Next, identify the people who need to use the data to work towards meeting the business goals. What are their roles? What are their responsibilities? How does their work map to your business goals?

3. Determine data storage locations and access points

Once you know who is going to need the data, you have to determine how and where they can access it. Speak with and even shadow your coworkers who need the data. Learn how they are using it today and how they would like to use it tomorrow. What are the critical points in their day-to-day experiences where this data can be impactful? How often does this data need to be collected? Does it need to be collected in real time?

4. Plug into your business processes

At this point, you know the impact you want the data to make, you know who needs access to it, and you know how and where they need it. Next, you have to plug this data into your existing business processes. Figure out how you can streamline and automate analysis of the data and pull the insights into the systems and processes that your coworkers already use. This is the best way to make sure that the data gets used. You may even discover processes that can be streamlined or automated.

You and your business are being impacted by the growth of the experience economy. You may even be a part of it.

In order to grow and thrive, you need to understand your customers’ experiences and be able to transform your customer experience data into actionable insights. Send me an email if you would like to find ways to collect and analyze your customer experience data and plug it into your business processes. I would love to chat!