You probably have heard the term Actionable Insights? It has become sort of a buzzword lately.
What is an actionable insight?
Some say that actionable insights are about data, data and more data, but that is a much too blunt way of talking about it. There is a subtle difference between data, information, and insights. While data is facts, unprocessed and raw, information has been collected and organised into something a bit more perceivable. Insight is something that is borne by analysing the information and coming to conclusions. It’s discovering something that can influence decisions.
Most companies really do want to get more actionable insights and base decisions on analysed information, but somehow there are quite a few companies that does it. According to a report from Forrester, 74% of companies want to be data-driven but only 29% of them succeeds in connecting their data to actions.
So, why is it so hard to get actionable insights? Well, I believe it lies in turning the information into a discovery.
How to turn information into insights?
Collect quality data
Well, this one might be a bit too obvious but to create actionable insights, you need the right infrastructure in place to collect quality data. But the key word here is quality, making sure the data that is collected is correct and relevant.
To gather, store and sort large volumes of data might not be an easy feat if you try to do it in-house, but luckily there are third-party vendors that can help you with that. There are vendors that can help you collect raw data, like number of placed calls or average waiting time for customers to reach your support, and vendors that specialises in customer experience data like NPS surveys. Make sure you have the setup in place to meet the needs of your company goals.
Make sure you understand the context
Knowing the context to the data you receive will help you know what action to take. Say that you have an average phone queue waiting time of about 30 seconds, for a customer to reach your sales agents. One week, it turns out it is 180 seconds instead. Some managers might go directly to the sales agents and give an angry speech about productivity. But maybe it turns out your marketing team had a new campaign live that week, generating increased sales. Then, synergies between marketing and management of sales agent staff is needed, rather than an angry manager.
Knowing what is going on in your company and the context of the data received will affect how actionable your insights might be.
How many calls you got to your sales number during Black Friday might not be relevant for how your staffing should look like over the year. Even though it might be helpful to know, for next year’s sale. Knowing what is an outlier and excluding that from your over all analyse will most probably help you get a more accurate view of what is going on.
Make sure the data is relevant
One piece of information could be really valuable for one person, and completely irrelevant to another. And just sending out the same compound of data to a wider arrange of people, might just create more noise, rather than helping the company. Make sure the right data reaches the right person. Let different department managers set up their own report with metrics that makes sense to them.
Well, again, this might sound obvious, but to make it an actionable insight, there should be the chance to take action. And this is not only about doing whatever and try again. Create a plan of action based on the insights gathered, and make sure to follow it up. Were your assumptions true and did the action change the outcome for the better. Learn from your actions to refine the process.
Hopefully, more and more companies will learn how to make data and information into business plans. Having a lot of data could be such a powerful tool, they day we choose to take actions on the insights we have gained from it.