Case Study: How to Conduct Customer Research as a Manufacturer

Conducting Customer Research as a manufacturer

Objectives of the Market Research

A Syracuse manufacturing company partnered with Drive Research and Advance Media New York to conduct a Voice of Customer (VoC) survey.

Our client was a vertically integrated wire manufacturer. They serve commercial buildings, water and gas, solar, and explosives industries, among others.

The market research study provided the client with the necessary data to better understand customer needs, wants, behaviors, as well as other secondary objectives.


Additionally, the data and findings from the market research would guide the manufacturer with:

  • Customer relationship strategies
  • Marketing ROI
  • Competitive insight
  • Opportunity areas to further strengthen relationships with end-users and distributors

Market Research Approach

To address the objectives at hand, Drive Research recommended the following market research approach for the manufacturing VoC survey.

Our team recommended taking an approach that utilized a number of touch-points in the most cost-effective way for the client.

Using several touch-points as part of this survey will show customers the importance of their feedback as well as confirm the client's personal approach.

VoC market research follows a step-by-step process as outlined below.

Step 1: Kickoff Meeting

Drive Research scheduled an in-person kickoff meeting with the manufacturing team on-site in Syracuse, NY.

An agenda was sent prior to the meeting which highlighted expectations, timeline, and next steps.

At the conclusion of the 1-hour kickoff meeting, our manufacturing market research company prepared a living project workplan that detailed deliverables, responsible parties, and dates of completion.

The workplan was updated each week and shared throughout the life of the project.

Lastly, the local manufacturer passed our team a customer sample file which included a contact name, email address, and phone number.

Step 2: Design the VoC Survey

Drive Research utilized the feedback obtained from the kickoff meeting to create a draft survey document for the client.

This survey addressed the key objectives of the study including:

  • Communication preferences
  • Feedback on current ordering processes
  • Marketing messages
  • Service differentiators
  • The appeal of some communication concepts

The survey document was sent in Word. Once the Word version was finalized, the survey was programmed into an online survey software and tested.

The link was sent to the client for review. The survey was designed, tested, administered, managed, analyzed, and reported on by Drive Research.

As a reward to participate, the manufactuer offered 100 coffee mugs to the first 100 respondents as well as raffling off 1 iPad mini.

Step 3: Fielding the VoC Survey

Before the survey began, an introductory email was sent by the President of the manufacturing company identifying Drive Research and the importance of survey responses.

Details of the customer research included:

  • The survey lasted an average of 5 to 7 minutes and included 23 questions.
  • Fieldwork began on March 17 and lasted until April 1.
  • A total of 130 respondents participated in this survey.
  • Open-ended questions were included as free-text responses with no radio button selections for respondents.
  • Open-ended questions were categorized and coded in the final report.

Step 4: Reporting

The market research report was compiled into a PowerPoint document and was delivered as a PDF.

At the conclusion of the project, Drive Research sent the client a draft report which included detailed sections from each step of the market research.

The customer research report for the manufacturer included:

  • An executive summary of themes derived from the research
  • An Infographic
  • Actionable recommendations based on the data

Additionally, several cross-tabulations were included in the report including age breakdowns and customer class breakdowns.

As the last step, our market research company debriefed with the manufacturing company at the conclusion of the project through an in-person scheduled meeting in Syracuse.

Key Findings of the Customer Research

The executive summary highlighted several key themes and takeaways from the market research.

In addition to the executive summary, Drive Research also prepared a one-page infographic and typical customer persona for the manufacturing company.


Using the net promoter score (NPS) metric of likelihood to recommend which ranges from -100 to +100, Drive Research calculated an NPS rating for the client.

NPS is broken down into 3 respondent categories:

  • Promoters or those who actively promote a company or brand.
  • Passives who do not promote or detract from a brand but can be easily swayed to a competitor.
  • Detractors or those who actively detract from a brand through negative word-of-mouth.

Drive Research benchmarked the NPS rating to over 80,000 organizations and companies over the past 12 months who collected NPS.

To learn more about the importance of net promoter scores, watch this short video.

Other Questions Answered for the Manufacturer

  • Word associations with the client
  • Factor(s) most important when choosing products
  • Competitive usage and comparisons
  • Drivers to satisfaction and loyalty
  • Areas of improvement
  • Ease of the ordering process
  • Communication preferences
  • Social media usage
  • Appeal of communication concepts
  • Interest in online content on the website
  • Categorization questions

Contact Drive Research to Conduct Customer Research

Drive Research is a manufacturing market research company in Upstate New York.

We work with manufacturing companies and industrial companies across the country to assist with their market research and Voice of Customer (VoC) needs.

To learn more about our services and relevant work in this industry, contact us below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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