Accessing data within the customer service environment is critical, and there’s a wealth of operational and systems data within the contact centre. Enhanced efficiency and productivity as well as cost savings and improved CX comes through correct measurement and optimisation of this data through dashboards and reporting, staff scheduling, training, processes, workflows and systems. Skills and knowledge are required to identify and remedy some of the day-to-day challenges in this environment: the quantitative nature of most of this data means that outcomes are easy to measure and the results can be clearly shown as objective.
A different approach is required when understanding and analysing customer behavioural data; this requires observation and subjective analysis, since this data plays an integral role in understanding customer choices, including their needs, wants and preferences that lead to decision-making. This, in turn, dictates customer service, marketing, CX and general business strategies. However, a lot of the accessible public data (particularly online content and social media) is laden with interpretive challenges.
The evolution of social media and identity curation
From a consumer perspective, social media started off as an instant, fun and sincere way to communicate and relate to friends, family, and the world at large but it has since evolved into something much bigger and more complex. People have become brands, and social media platforms have become public mouthpieces for individual expression - but how real and accurate is the content on social media and how heavily is it influenced by identity curation and the desire for social conformity and acceptance?
Trending: private Instagram profiles
Crippled by the weight of growing up and being judged in a public online space, younger generations are seeking refuge in protected and safe online spaces where they can be anonymous and their “authentic online self” without being subjected to any criticism or social pressures. In addition to their “real” public Instagram or other social media accounts, many have set up private fake Instagram accounts (called “Finstas”) using generic handles.
Here account holders feel that they have the freedom to be themselves - Finstagram content could include unflattering selfies, unpopular views, private jokes or even sharing mundane moments with their small group of approved followers. This leaves the perfectly curated images with carefully applied filters of them #livingtheirbestlife for their public accounts - all without jeopardising their core social media identities.
So, if a lot of public social media data is heavily influenced by identity curation, filtered to avoid offending others, or determined by what others may think rather than being a genuine act of self-expression, is it always truly indicative of current consumer sentiment, preferences or attributes? Is the genuine content only hidden behind the virtual walls of private online profiles and if so, what does this mean for businesses and their digestion and interpretation of Big (user-generated) Data? In addition to this, how is it possible to “know your customer” when, as social media usage patterns suggest, consumers are becoming increasingly unwilling to publicly reveal their “true-selves”?
Millennial life hacks - shortcuts and their influence on data
Reading between the lines of the research published in the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing's Youth Report 2018, the ingenious resourcefulness of youth could potentially be muddying the behavioural data businesses collect and challenging the integrity of the insights that are used to understand, know and service customers.
The research states that there is a tendency for the youth, when finances are tight, to “shortcut established institutional procedures and practices for their own benefit”. This could include, for example, anything from using multiple SIM cards and sharing loyalty cards to strapping a wearable fitness tracker to the dog to earn activity rewards linked to specific health loyalty programmes.
With these insights in mind, businesses should be careful about the value they attach to specific kinds of data - particularly when deciding what should be used to shape future business strategies. Ultimately, differentiating between the “fake” and the “real” data is what will determine not just what is relevant now, but for the future as well.