Data analytics at the heart of Vanguard’s client experience

Imagine a world in which you are a detail-oriented analyst focused on results and outcomes, encouraged to ask questions, and empowered to work with a team developing innovative solutions. Within the Client Experience & Digital (CXD) group at Vanguard, our high-performing teams are doing exactly that, and the data analysts are central to this work.

I’m writing this as a new team member, having joined CXD only a few weeks ago. People have asked me to describe what it’s like to work in CXD and what makes CXD different from other groups within Vanguard and places where I had previously worked. I started my career working with large databases within IT divisions, and then moved into direct-to-consumer retail marketing and marketing technology as those solutions gained prominence in the mid-2000s. I was aware of Vanguard’s mission, and as a woman and working mother, Vanguard’s focus on doing the right thing for both investors and employees was attractive to me. Two years ago, I was fortunate to join Vanguard’s Retail Marketing Analytics group, where I led a team of data analysts, before my recent transition to CXD, where I serve as a data analytics manager.

Three things come to mind when I consider what it is like to live and breathe analytics in this specific context and, in my experience, make working within CXD unique.

1. The first is POST-IT NOTES, which are used daily in brainstorming sessions, in mapping out client journeys, and in tracking progress against goals. They are representative of the way we work and our team structure, and they also provide decorative flair to the office walls. The work we do here is very visual – after all, the journey labs are focused on improving Vanguard’s digital experiences which is, in and of itself, inherently visual. They also come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes optimized to get a specific job done. I see this as being symbolic of the way our teams are structured and representative of the diversity of skills and backgrounds that help make our teams high performing.

2. The second is IMPROMPTU CELEBRATIONS. We work in short sprints, rapidly iterating to consistently move forward by taking one step at a time. This leads to celebrating small wins along the way. We might applaud the automation of a process or the results of an experiment because we are happy when we can see that we are making digital experiences better for our clients, or when we can quickly learn that something did not work as we had hypothesized. These celebrations also acknowledge personal and work milestones. We take pride in the work we do, and we look for ways to recognize the fact that we are making progress both personally and within our CXD journeys.

3. The final item is a high level of PEER-TO-PEER COLLABORATION. The data analysts are embedded within a “full-stack” agile team with strategists, developers, designers, and researchers. You might think this means analysts are without the support of an analytics community. This is not the case! The analysts continue to work closely with other analysts across CXD, thinking through approaches and validating findings while sharing knowledge with their analytic peers.

I think it is interesting that our analysts come from a variety of backgrounds and work from different strengths. It shouldn’t be surprising that we have individuals with quantitative experience. However, we also have team members with degrees in communications and people who started their Vanguard careers as phone representatives. Within this context, analysts switch between the technical and non-technical to continually ground decision making in the data, design and execute experiments, and craft data stories that are meaningful to the business. All of this happens so we can improve client experiences in support of Vanguard’s mission to give investors the best chance for investment success.

– Jane M.

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