5 Things We Wish You Knew About Market Research

As I've written about before in a post titled 8 Reasons Businesses Avoid Market Research, far too many decision-makers do not integrate custom market research into their daily operations for a variety of reasons. Some do not see the value, some do not have the time, and some simply do not believe market research can make an impact. Others believe the data will not tell them anything they don't already know.

So for all of the non-believers in customer experience (CX) and voice of customer (VoC), here are 5 things I wish you knew about the value of market research.

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Point 1: Just reaching out through VoC to listen, pays huge dividends.

Think of yourself as a general consumer, can anything be more frustrating than a company that does not care about your thoughts or feedback? Or even offer a vehicle for you to voice these concerns? Without actively reaching out to collect opinions through market research, you are essentially saying "we know our business better than you do, we won't learn anything from you by asking questions."

Using VoC is a lot different from offering a "comment box" on your website. When it comes to customer complaints your company is reacting to negative feedback and putting a wet blanket on a fire. With VoC you're proactively reaching out to address issues before they reach the complaint box to find ways to solve the problem.

From a customer perspective there is a huge difference between these two options. In the first you're saying we don't care about you until you have a problem. In the second you're saying we care about you so much, we know you have problems and we want to find out more about it. We're here to listen and fix it. What is more genuine than that in business?

Point 2: If you think you're just going to get a crowded Excel file of data at the end of the research you're wrong.

Good market research goes far beyond numbers. Specialists, consultants, and market research firms work to interpret and analyze the data to bring it to life. In addition to all of the tabulations, they'll provide you with themes, takeaways, and recommendations. If you don't have the time to read through a 75 page PowerPoint, many consultants are experts with data visualization and can summarize thousands of data points into a nice and neat one-page infographic. Market research should not overwhelm you, but instead enlighten you.

Point 3: Market research is not a one-and-done project, the findings are integrated, creating positive change ripple effects across your organization.

So many companies have jumped on the data-driven decision-making bandwagon and for good reason. I'm glad to see data and big data coming to the forefront of a lot of industries. It's easier to convince and enforce strategic change if you have 2,000+ customers saying "this needs to change" instead of 1 executive saying "this needs to change."

Objective data gives you credibility to drive improvement within your organization. The best part? You can't argue with 2,000+ customers who all say they want something changed. Having data to back your decisions provides your company with a clear direction. Working in the best interest of the customer to make them happy and loyal is the key to business growth. This is one of the reasons I gravitate to VoC, although we all have opinions, including myself, the VoC data gives you the opinions of those who matter the most.

Point 4: Market research provides your organization with the ability to measure performance.

Answering the question "how are we doing?" must be answered externally by your customers, not internally through revenue, number of new customers, or any other bottom-line numbers. I would argue a KPI that is missing among many organizations is a measurement that comes from those who determine those same bottom-line figures: your buyers.

Obtaining customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) or NPS you'll discover factors that drive those measurements through market research. Having all of the revenue data gives you a picture of the what for your organization, but your VoC will provide you context of the why. If your customer satisfaction scores dropped by 20% last year and your sales dropped by 10%, a logical question is: "were they correlated?"

By digging deeper you may find out changing your online ordering system created problems for your buyers and the check-out required a lot more effort. This is one of several factors that you may learn through your market research, all of which impacted revenue. Better yet? Looks like you found out what priority 1 is to fix for next year.

Point 5: Market research is the beginning of an endless cycle of insight where the layers are continually peeled back to understand the roots of your customer experience.

Perhaps the largest reason of why I am such a strong advocate for market research is that in my 10+ years of working in the field, I've never heard a client say "your research wasn't worth it" or "I didn't learn anything" after we delivered a report and presented the data. Not one. In fact, the market research usually uncovers other priority areas from customers that the client didn't even know existed as pain points. This typically results in a more focused follow-up study to uncover more.

Market research works like a funnel, you start broad and then work your way down to priority areas to gather data. Understanding the 3 or 4 (or 15) key areas that truly drive loyalty to your business is invaluable. Essentially it's saying, "here you go decision-maker, this is what makes your customers tick." And if you think you know what these 3 or 4 factors are without using market research, well, I encourage you to circle back to point 1 of this piece and start over.

The Drive Research blog is a website offering content to those working the market research field or aspiring towards a career track in the industry. I'm passionate about integrating CX and VoC into company strategy and I'm a firm believer in its short-term and long-term benefits. Questions about how Drive can help you with your next market research project? We're a small business market research firm in Upstate, NY. Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at [email protected].

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