Customer experience: How to avoid Paralysis by Analysis

In today’s world of big data and fancy dashboards, it’s easy to become inundated by so much information that we forget what we’re here for: to create a better customer experience. Instead of taking actions to solve known customer issues, “paralysis by analysis” takes over as we sift through more and more data seeking out the risk-free, completely optimal solution with the very best ROI.

“Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein

Paralysis by Analysis

We forget that while we’re mulling it over, customers continue to struggle with the issue we’re trying to solve. Customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy continue eroding, costing the company money. Sometimes it’s better to take a good-faith action rather than wait for the PERFECT solution, which may never come.

Paralysis by analysis is “the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.” This can happen for a number of reasons:

  • You fear making the wrong decision and as a result, avoid making any decision at all;
  • You feel compelled to pick the “perfect” decision, and in doing so, making the decision is delayed until yet more research is done;
  • Sources of data presented during discovery are conflicting, inconclusive, and no clear answers appear;
  • You are torn between many available solutions.

You may know or feel that a problem exists. But, when it comes to an organization’s customer feedback, insights from different parts of the business may sometimes tell different stories, and meshing this disparate data into a conclusive picture and course of action is near impossible. Issue discovery may include information generated from “big data” (i.e. transactions, product history, etc.), results from structured survey questions (which often ‘lead’ the customer to an answer in certain ways), and open-ended, top of mind verbatim responses from feedback forms.  Trying to make sense of all this insight can be likened to a hamster in a hamster wheel – you can run all day but never actually get anywhere. At some point, analysing must stop, common sense must prevail and action must be taken. If not, why gather feedback at all?

If you frequently experience paralysis by analysis when it comes to your customer feedback programme, here are our top tips to help you get through it:

Identify your objective

Do you know what your end goal is? Will the decision you make help you achieve that? If it will, take action – make the best decision based on what you know right now. You can always change it later.

Set a deadline

Give yourself a deadline. Determine the last possible date by which a business decision should be made and stick to it. If this deadline cannot be met for whatever reason, remove it from the decision-making table. If you are having problems coming up with this deadline, remind yourself of the daily impact the bad customer experience is having on your business. What’s that costing you?

Get a second opinion

A problem shared is a problem halved. Share your thoughts with colleagues as and when it is appropriate. Ask, listen, seek advice. Let them help you make the decision. Beware of “over sharing,” and don’t try to seek out all possible viewpoints as that can often hinder progress on taking action.

Don’t get bogged down in details

Continually wanting to dive deeper and deeper into an analysis often serves only to delay the decision making. Decide what you need to know to make a decision, retrieve that information and move forward. You can always continue to do research and tweak your decision later.

Take small steps

Rather than seeing the decision to be made as a one off, consider taking smaller decisions that lead to the bigger one. “Perfect” decisions are almost impossible to make.

Pick one option

If you are facing a myriad of choices and are not sure which way to turn, just pick one action and take it. At least in this way you have made a decision and the consequences can be evaluated over time.

We fully appreciate that when it comes to their Voice of Customer programs, some organizations suffer from data overload and paralysis by analysis. Feedback Ferret is here to help.

We automatically analyze and make sense of your customer feedback and tell you, via our reporting tools, exactly what issues are most critical to improving your customer experience. We can’t tell you exactly HOW to solve your customer experience problems, but we can point out the most impactful pain points. It’s up to you to decide when and how to act.