How can geometry help brands measure their customer experience initiatives? Enter fractals – which can visualize the complex relationships between brands and their customers.
Gizmodo provides a great definition of fractal geometry: “While the shapes that you learned in classical geometry were ‘smooth’, such as a circle or a triangle, the shapes that come out of fractal geometry are ‘rough’ and infinitely complex. However fractal geometry is still about making shapes, measuring shapes and defining shapes, just like school.”
Fractals often look like shapes found in nature, such as trees or shells. The classic example of a fractal is a snowflake. Just listen to the lyrics of “Let it go” from Disney’s hit movie Frozen (apologies in advance if this is stuck in your head for the rest of the day):
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!
To put this in a business context, we can look at the past as the era before advanced measurement was possible. In today’s world, brands rely on technology to benchmark and analyze the impact of their programs. Let’s look at how brands can use the concept of fractal geometry to better measure their customer experience (CX).
Applying the fractal concept of unique self-repeating patterns to CX data will allow us to build data querying methodologies or tools related to answering specific business questions, in real or near real time. In a perfect world, a new CX metric could be developed using an application of fractal algorithms to customer data, visualized in a dashboard with user functionality arising from the new metric. This could have a huge impact on the brand, enabling client-side analysts to derive greater insight than existing metrics allow and providing insightful visualizations for business stakeholders.
Fractals help us make chaos look predictable – whether making sense of the seemingly-abstract shapes of a tree’s branches, or mapping the strength of a brand’s customer experience initiatives. For example, we can use the concept of fractals to visualize the “shape of customer experience” for a brand. The ideal customer experience would look like a balanced fractal, with the customer positioned at the center, and a variety of customer engagement touchpoints fanning out from the center:
When developing a CX strategy, it’s key that every aspect be in synch. If one aspect is off, the fractal will look much different and appear to be spiraling out of control:
Fractals can also be used to drill down into various aspects of the brand’s CX program, such as social media. One of the most closely-followed social metrics is community size, and much effort and investment is spent on increasing the web of followers that surround a brand. We often think of our followers like a web that surrounds us. We put out content and they interact and engage with us, and we hope that in the end they travel further along the customer journey. We could visualize that interaction simply like this:
But, it’s more complex than a brand being the central spoke surrounded by followers – rather, a brand is part of a much larger unique ecosystem. Brands can use fractals to go a lot deeper in measuring their social interactions, zooming in to capture increasing levels of complexity.
We recently wrote a blog post about our “Katy Perry Index” or KPI, in which we focused on Katy Perry (the most-followed person on Twitter) and looked at how much she was followed by followers of a specific handle, and then expanded this to groups of handles to learn certain things – like, whether Katy Perry is followed more by followers of cosmetics brands or clothing brands, etc. We can apply the same idea to brands, as illustrated in this image:
Brands have historically struggled to measure the impact of their marketing, social and overall CX programs, and fractals offer valuable, visual insights into the interactions between companies and their customers. These are just a few examples of the power of fractals and I don’t think we’ll be “letting go” of fractals for CX anytime soon.