The value of the interdisciplinary approach: Co-analysis as a way of knowing your customer
Conversational co-analysis is a robust, productive approach to analysing customer experience. Actively listening to co-analysts produces the best insights.
Data analysis lies at the heart of Customer Experience (CX). Any CX organisation worth their salt has a highly skilled team of analysts that are able to produce innovative insights that can reliably inform decision-making. And the strongest analysis teams are often interdisciplinary.
Because, at the most fundamental level, their job is to produce new knowledge. And all knowledge is inherently co-produced. No knowledge is produced in a vacuum away from the influences of other facts, ideas and people.
Having a collaborative analysis model, then, is a pretty good idea.
Although, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds: there are lots of collaborative analysis methods to choose from and some are better than others. Understanding how to co-produce knowledge – which method to adopt and why – takes skill and knowledge itself.
Conversational co-analysis is one of these ‘better’ methods. This is a method in which analysts collectively analyse the data to create valuable, insightful perspectives on the data. Co-analysis is akin to a theoretically-informed conversation around the data. In preparation, each of the analysts interrogate the data on their own then come to the conversation with their own theoretically-informed ideas about the data. As a group, they then discuss the data in detail until they arrive at a unified perspective on the data.
The value in this approach lies in the performance of the conversation. Far from the conversation you might have in the pub on a Friday night, this is a thorough conversation between professionals who are required to justify and explain their ideas. They bounce their ideas off each other until they come up with a new perspective that incorporates the most relevant and valuable elements of all the perspectives considered.
Conversation: Dialogue: Dialogics
Sociologist Richard Sennett calls this type of conversation ‘dialogic’, by which he means “looking at things in the round to see the many sides of any issue or practice, the shifting focus making people cooler and more objective in their reaction”. Because of the explicit intention to come up with a solution, this way of analysing encourages the analysts to really listen to what the other analysts are saying and understand the logical framework behind their ideas. The group collectively explores each analyst’s ideas, testing their theoretical validity, saliency and relevance to the situation at hand. Together, the group tweaks and amends the ideas until they come up with a coherent, unified perspective on the data that is both theoretically rigorous and relevant.
“looking at things in the round to see the many sides of any issue or practice, the shifting focus making people cooler and more objective in their reaction”.
4 Heads are Better Than 1
This does not mean simply that more analysts mean better results. A co-analytical approach only works if all the analysts are able to communicate with one another. If there are too many analysts, there risks being too many ideas and not enough discussion around the ideas: an idea is often only given a rudimentary discussion before another idea is introduced. Optimal co-analysis occurs when all the analysts are able to discuss all the ideas thoroughly. And this normally happens with small teams.
Co-analysis encourages people with different perspectives to challenge, question and refine an idea in a productive manner. Because they all have different backgrounds, they naturally look for different things in the data. If harnessed in the right way, their different backgrounds can provide rich sources of criticism of a new idea without completely shooting it down. CX research that draws on this collaborative analysis method promises a unique, academically rigorous way of understanding the customer and highly valuable insights into their experience.
Behavioral Economic Analyst