From sales figures to customer satisfaction scores, there are plenty of performance metrics vying for our attention. Ultimately, the point of these numbers is to quantify performance and support decision making. So, which are most important? How do we prioritize the gathering and assessing of the many metrics available to us as business leaders?
I guess the default answer of “it depends” is accurate, but it’s also unsatisfying. While the discussion around data importance and priority is one that needs to happen, I find myself wondering how those data points themselves came to be. Not in terms of collection methods or analytics, but in terms of the underlying environmental factors, customer behaviors, and internal business decisions. Why did customers rate their experience the way they did? Why are sales trending up or down? Why is one product or service gaining more traction than another?
Too often I see this type of curiosity stifled as the question of “what now?” jumps to the front of the line. However, the questions of “why?” and “what now?” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, understanding why things are the way they are puts us in a better position to determine the best way forward. Sometimes moving the KPI needle is about micro-moments and subtle adjustments. A few steps in the direction of why can provide clarity around what those are.
All that said, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit-hole of why. The power of data-driven insights is when they’re actionable, not just observational. So, like anything else, we need to be strategic with our exploration of outcome reasons and drivers. Through an organized, purpose-oriented approach, we can keep asking why within a forward-thinking framework. Here are a tips and suggestions:
Lean on your Customer Journey Map.
Each stage along the journey has its own touchpoints. Within those touchpoints can be situational variants and unique circumstances. The more times we ask why, the further into the weeds we go. Since these details and nuances are where the golden nuggets of insight are usually found, it’s a valuable part of the process. But with that, it’s easy to get lost. So, if we get too deep into the weeds and lose sight of our big-picture purpose, we can work our way back up through the journey map branches and reassess our approach.
Be curious when things are going well.
When something doesn’t go as planned, we instinctively want to know why. Questions are asked to identify and troubleshoot issues that may have led to an undesired outcome. But there’s benefit to applying this same level of interest and energy when things go well. The more we understand what worked and why certain tactics were effective, we can build upon those or apply them in other areas of our business. Why are sales through the roof this quarter? Why are satisfaction scores higher than ever? Curiosity shouldn’t be reserved for solving problems. It has just as much strategic application during periods of growth and success.
Challenge the status quo.
As business leaders, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of doing things the way they’ve always been done. By challenging our own processes, strategies, and assumptions, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow, evolve, and improve. I’m not suggesting we flip the house upside down simply for sake of shaking things up. But the power of “why?” facing inward can improve productivity, spotlight growth potential, and spark innovation. It can be uncomfortable when challenging the status quo. However, in our highly competitive world, sometimes it takes a bit of discomfort to achieve our most audacious goals.
In 1985, MacKenzie was founded on the core principles of being curious, creative, and customer-centric. We strive to ask questions others do not ask in search of actionable insights, forward-thinking solutions, and innovative strategies. By asking “why?” at the right times and in the right ways, we unlock opportunities for our clients to grow, evolve, and thrive.