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Community Soundbites: How we effectively share insights with the business

Each month, Thematic hosts a virtual roundtable for CX & insights professionals within our community. Together, we discuss how we’re seeing this space evolving and swap notes on best practices! Join our community here.

This month our members joined the call ready dive into the field of sharing insights. We came prepared to express our failures and successes and find some common ground around best practices.

We covered four key facets of this subject:

  1. Our learnings about sharing insights with different stakeholders
  2. Best practices for sharing themes across the business (and how we go about presenting insights)
  3. How different terminology impacts our ability to communicate insights
  4. How we can potentially refine our role to enable more change inside the business

Let’s dive in!

Should you always start with the problem when storytelling?

One thing became clear as our conversations kicked off - when sharing insights with the business, starting with the research question, or business problem is common and some argue, critical.

Anna Divoli (who recently started her new role as Associate Director of Data & Analytics at KPMG, congratulations Anna!) shared that she always takes stakeholders along a journey - starting with the problem, and leading towards potential solutions.

Kay, from Goodman Fielder, backed this by reiterating the need to open up with the business problem the insights connect to. As CX professionals, we constantly need to remember what different stakeholders care about - and start with the problem we’re trying to solve which connects to their function/purpose.

We then started to investigate the complexities we manage at different levels of these conversations. Some teams require a deep and technical run-through of the research - and other times you need to distill it down to the high-level points.

It’s all about understanding the audience and resisting the urge to share the information we think is most important, but may not be considered important by the stakeholders. You may lose their attention, so it’s useful to focus them on the most critical insights.

If you have the luxury of sharing emerging trends and insights with executive stakeholders, there may be no research question or business problem to start with. Although it seemed within our community, few were given this luxury!

Translating insights to drive action

We discussed how we go about sharing themes with different stakeholders. The consensus within our community however was that more than just themes are needed to be successful in these conversations. There needs to be subtopics, actions - and ideally a clear idea of the future state we’re working towards. People also need to understand any limitations and/or external influences which may have impacted the feedback.

Mark Hall, another long-time community member chimed with a great point here: How can we demonstrate the severity of the problem being discussed?

Sometimes it’s not about showing the positives of resolving the CX challenges. Often it’s more important to demonstrate the impact of not doing anything.

How to answer the “so what does this mean?” question...

Guneet (Head of CX, AppFolio), shared his strategy for counteracting the “so what” question. E.g. “I understand the insight, but so what? What do we do about it? I’m very busy as it is!”

To avoid being hit with this question, any insight presented needs to have an action attached. Though we all know this is easier said than done...

Sometimes there isn’t a clear and immediate action - but the insight presented is important nonetheless. Equally, sometimes we don’t have access to all the organizational context to understand how the insight came to fruition.

For this reason, we all share the view that for insights with an unclear origin, talking to internal stakeholders first (individually) before presenting it to the collective business stakeholders is key. Sometimes others inside the business can explain the drivers of a theme, or provide context which impacts how best to present ideas to people in leadership.

Can we evolve our role to aid in the implementation of insight-driven change?

Sometimes the hardest part of CX work is having to pass the ball to other teams to bring it to life. It’s even harder when you watch those plans get pushed down the organization’s list of priorities.

“It’s hard when you feel strongly about something needing to change, but you can’t get that internal consensus. Being told “there’s nothing we can do to change that” is hard when you’re not the ultimate decision-maker. Sometimes you have to move on” - Mark Hall.

Mark talked about how CX professionals need to champion the change. Sometimes that also means you need to keep going with feedback analyzes, and continuously build better relationships with stakeholders in the business. You can’t let it lose momentum. Of course, this always does depend on the magnitude of change...

Regardless of this - our purpose remains to educate, inform, and clarify the work to be done.

“Sometimes the biggest value add is just being able to cut out the noise for the business. Getting out the key information, making it clear why it matters, and then making it actionable…”

You can be the guiding light, but it’s up to leadership to make it a priority

This raised an interesting and still open question - can or will the role of the insights professional evolve from research and sharing, to also supporting implementation? If you have an opinion to share here, you should consider joining our community.

How can you most effectively share themes and insights across the business?

Presenting insights in a report is always limiting from a storytelling perspective. We agree that discussing customer insights should be a conversation - not a static document.

The context of feedback matters, understanding the problem matters - and being able to connect the relevance with specific individuals in the business matters. Equally, some feedback can present points of contention inside the business - so you need to engage one-one with senior stakeholders first.

Communication (pre and post-presentation) is just as important as presenting the insights themselves.

In conclusion - there’s no doubt that when you dive into the realm of CX, you end up having to wear a lot of hats! Thankfully we have communities like this so we’re not alone on the island.

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