Data governance is a requirement for business and government today


If your business or agency has been around for a while, you probably know at least one story of how a customer’s life has been transformed by the work of your organization. Those anecdotes are a great way to humanize customers in conversations with executives, colleagues, employees, and stakeholders. It’s always great to tell customer stories.

But we’re living in the experience economy, and anecdotes simply won’t bring long-term, organizational alignment around customers. You need quantitative performance standards, customer experience data, and operational data. You need ways for your executives to face what’s right and what’s wrong, and decide what they’re going to do about it.

The good news is you may already have loads of CX-oriented data from technology you’re currently using. But getting the data isn’t the hard part. You must go from having the data to doing something with it.

There’s no silver bullet for knowing what to do. But data governance and data privacy are key to figuring it out, with the help of your colleagues.

Data governance moves you from having data to getting stuff done based on the data. There’s no singular right way to create your organization’s data governance framework, but there are some key elements to starting.

Data governance is a CX requirement, and CX requires a survey policy

One key ingredient to establishing CX and data governance is a survey policy.

If you don’t know how many survey platforms are being used in your organization (one in three IT leaders don’t, according to Qualtrics’ research), or you don’t know how many individuals or teams inside your organization are sending out customer surveys, then an administrative policy can define some structure around when, where, and how surveys are being sent to customers.

Use your agency’s other policies as a guideline for drafting your survey policy, and have your policy approved through executive channels. File it with the organization’s other administrative guidelines and policies. Then, socialize it.

Governance settings in your experience management tools

Survey policy should also touch your experience management tool.

Data governance settings embedded within the tool should allow a chosen administrator to control all of your agency’s survey accounts. This mitigates the risk of data misuse while eliminating data silos that prevent holistic data from making its way to leadership and stakeholders.

It’s not just data that guides: External advisory groups and stakeholders

Many companies and government organizations have advisory committees comprised of external stakeholders or clients that advise on how organizations can do a better job for its customers, shareholders, or citizens.

The IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Panel advises the IRS on customer service issues, for example. NASA’s advisory council tells NASA how they can improve agency operations. Private sector advisory committees advise and guide companies in much the same way.

Research your organization’s advisory committees, what they do, their responsibilities, and who coordinates their work and meetings. Get a regular spot on the committee’s agenda and share customer data you’ve collected. For them to do their work and make good recommendations, they need the customer data you’re collecting. On the same token, their influence can bring visibility to customer pain points and what needs to be done to fix those pain points.

Internal Advisory Groups

Let’s say you have customer experience standards in place and you’re cranking out feedback scores and other measurements on a regular basis. In the spirit of what your company’s external advisory committees do, now you need an internal advisory group that can decide what the data is telling you, and what will be done about it.

You may call this an operations review committee or customer advisory panel. For example, in my past life working in the B2B world, client teams and account teams functioned in a similar capacity. No matter what you call it, here’s some of what you need to set up an internal advisory group:

1.) A written charter.
Write down the purpose, outcomes, cadence, membership, and expectations for being part of this internal council. Get the charter approved through the right executive channels and add it to the repertoire of other policies and documents that guide what the business or agency does.

2.) A senior executive in charge of governance procedures.
You need a skilled facilitator with authority who understands the business of the organization and can lead action-oriented, inspirational, non-threatening discussions around customer data.

3.) A secretariat.

Creating reports, scheduling, communication, tracking progress, and corralling the members of the internal council will be a continuous part of this endeavor. Don’t skimp on the secretariat. This person will “keep the trains moving.”

4.) A cross-disciplinary team.
Be inclusive in selecting members of your governance council. You need multiple backgrounds, skill sets, and viewpoints to draw out the systemic and sometimes uncomfortable issues that come up when the data comes front and center.

5.) A regular cadence for reviewing the CX data.
Create a standing day, time, location, and/or dial-in number for governance meetings. The secretariat should communicate the meeting specifics to the team.

6.) One set of CX data points.
Choose operational and experience data points that tell stories of customers’ experiences with your company. Customer wait time, processing times, application acceptance/rejection rates, or portal downtime, customer satisfaction, and effort scores could be examples of data your committee might review as part of the governance work.

7.) Obligatory participation.
This is the key ingredient to the data governance policy. CX governance is not a one-and-done scenario. The team must commit to regular gatherings. The recipe will fail if team members have a “whenever I’m available, I’ll do it” commitment to discussing customer data. If you want CX governance to work, participation cannot be optional or sporadic.

The importance of patience and human stories

Creating the right data governance policy for your organization requires using a technique that fits the culture of your business or agency, along with tenacity and time.

And while CX governance can be quite numbers and process-focused, the human anecdotes associated with the data shouldn’t go away. Customer stories, contact center recordings, or chat transcripts can add dimension to executives being able to understand the data at hand. Add those stories to the discussion when it makes sense.

Want more insights on CX and data governance specific to federal government agencies?  Check out our recent webinar here

Stephanie Thum
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April 12, 2019
Stephanie Thum

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