Editor’s note: Denise Christie is marketing communications manager at analytics firm Luminoso Technologies, Boston.

We’ve all heard the customer experience motto: customer-centric companies that listen to their customers and act on that feedback are more successful and competitive than those that don’t.

Makes sense and sounds easy enough. What could be more straightforward than simply listening to your customers and doing what they say? And honestly, what company wouldn’t do that?

This is much easier said than done. According to Forrester, while 74 percent of companies say they want their business decisions to be data-driven, only 29 percent think that they’re successful at connecting the insights they collect to concrete actions. (Perhaps the biggest question I have about this statistic is why only 74 percent want data to drive their decisions.)

So, what steps should you take to connect your customer insights to concrete business initiatives?

1.  Set clear business objectives from the beginning. The process of connecting insights to action starts earlier than you might think. Before you begin collecting or even analyzing data, it’s helpful to identify what business problem you’re trying to solve. It could be general (e.g. increasing revenue, gaining new clients, preventing existing customers from leaving, etc.) or specific (resolving a specific issue with escalations in your call center).

2.  Based on these objectives, pinpoint what type and sources of data you will need. Knowing this will help direct you so you know what data to look at or collect, rather than drowning in vast amounts of data. Chances are, you’ll end up with a combination of several data sources or types – for example, quantitative data to easily summarize trends and qualitative data like verbatims can help make that trend seem immediate and real.

3.  Craft a story around the data. What’s the problem you an...