When we share data on the Service Desk, we often fail to provide any context and thus offer no explanation, reasoning or rationale. All too often we present data in isolation, allowing it to float on a sea of uncertainty and leave it open to interpretation. All of us will look at the graph below and draw certain conclusions.
I would guess that the majority of us would assume that service had declined quite rapidly in September and that customers were venting their anger. We could go further and say that IT had rolled out a new system that was not fit for purpose, or perhaps that the desk had lost a large number of staff and service had suffered as a result. Could it be that the service desk had turned into a bunch of surly, rude and unprofessional people in September and that their attitude became progressively worse? When we share data without any context or story we leave ourselves wide open to the interpretation and whims of others – we allow them to impose their own stories, and it is much harder to correct them after the event and change their opinions. After all, who likes being told that they are wrong? If you presented this graph to senior management with no explanation or story behind it, you may well have found yourself hauled into the Manager’s office. Perhaps you would have taken another course of action and sat on the graph and hoped it never saw the light of day.
Actually, the above graph could reflect a very healthy service desk – all that happened in September was that they made their complaints process easier to understand for customers and made it more accessible. In essence, they welcomed customer complaints because this enabled them to do something about it, to resolve issues and grievances rather than customers sharing them among their peers. This graph shows that this approach was working effectively.
The above paragraph is the story of the graph. It tells the audience what has happened and why. By creating stories you control the message. As a bonus you’re encouraging engagement and interaction by involving your audience in the data, at which point it becomes information that people can learn and benefit from. So make sure that you tell the stories of your data – it’s always dangerous to assume that your audience will draw the conclusions that you want them to.