How to Conduct Research Interviews in Manufacturing

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How to Conduct Research Interviews in Manufacturing

Define Your Objectives

Research interviews or in-depth interviews (IDIs) can be used to uncover in-depth feedback on products, factors which go into choice of products, pain points, and needs of customers who would be choosing a manufacturing company. The market research provides manufacturers with a comprehensive exploratory look at the customer decision-making process among other objectives.

These research interviews differ from a traditional online survey in that they are subjective and exploratory. Rather than asking hundreds of your customers to complete a quick survey, these manufacturing research interviews focus on diving deep into the customer experience. They are more personable because each interview is conducted with a trained and professional moderator who can dig into the psychology of decision-making and perceptions.

Research interviews offer a manufacturer significant 1-on-1 time with their customers. The moderator can explore the customer relationship, uncover key drivers to purchase, and analyze perceptions of competitors. But be leery of doing these on your own. Customers may not give you the full truth or be 100% honest if they speak directly to you instead of a 3rd party.

How Does the Research Interview Process Work?

First you'll want to work with your market research consultant to choose the number of interviews you'd like to complete. We never recommend less than 8. Consider going beyond 8 so you can bucket interviews into specific categories (e.g. 5 with customers, 5 with non-customers). You may even want to think about breaking interviews down by product line, geography, or vertical.

This qualitative market research process fully explores all primary and secondary objectives of the
manufacturing company. Qualitative market research is a good first step before any type of follow-up quantitative research because it provides 4 unique benefits:

(1) Qualitative provides settings to dig deeper and ask “why?”

(2) Qualitative ensures all topics and lists are exhaustive in follow-up surveys

(3) Qualitative identifies themes, issues and strengths to be further explored

(4) Qualitative offers time to digest, reexamine, and refocus the research

Step 1: Kickoff

Before the market research begins, the market research company will schedule a kickoff meeting with the manufacturing company team. An agenda will be sent prior to the meeting which will highlight expectations, timeline, and next steps.

At the conclusion of the kickoff meeting, companies like Drive Research will prepare a living project workplan or Driver's Manual which details deliverables, responsible parties, and dates of completion. This workplan will be updated each week and shared throughout the life of the project.

At the kickoff meeting, teams will agree on a priority list of contacts for the manufacturing research interviews. The priority list can be based on spending volume, recent relationships, or prospective

Step 2: Interview Guide Design

It is recommended the manufacturing research interviews last approximately 20 to 30 minutes each. This is a optimal length of time for the moderator to dig and expand while not overextending the customer for his or her time.

Each interview will be pre-scheduled and digitally recorded. Digitally recording the interview helps the moderator focus on the active discussion without having to take notes. The recordings can also be sent for transcription following the interview.

The interview guide could also inquire on marking messaging and channels which resonate with participants, understand usage of a manufacturer’s website (content desired, user experience (UX), reasons users visit sites, etc.), as well as diving into customer satisfaction and loyalty with current manufacturers exploring what it would take to use the manufacturing company in the future (or again.)

Ultimately, this exploratory research will help the manufacturing company to better understand the customer and non-customers perspective on key items. The market research firm will pass the manufacturing company a draft interview guide for review before scheduling the interviews.

Step 3: Fieldwork

For example, if a total of 8 interviews are conducted with each interview taking 30+ minutes to complete, it will provide a manufacturing company with over 4 hours worth of customer and non-customer feedback which can be ingrained into marketing strategy. This equates to nearly 100 completes of 3-minute online surveys with customers.

The largest variable in the project timeline is the fieldwork. This highly depends on the availability and responsiveness of the customer and non-customer lists. Honorariums or rewards are encouraged to entice participation. These can be accepted, passed on, or donated to a charity of choice.

Our manufacturing market research reports are comprehensive yet digestible.

Step 4: Analysis and Reporting

The market research report will be compiled into a PowerPoint document and will be delivered in a PDF. At the conclusion of the fieldwork the market research company will send the manufacturing firm a draft report which will include detailed sections from each step of the market research.

The report will include an executive summary of themes derived from the research including recommendations and action items. This also includes customer personas and an infographic. The appendix will include the detailed case summary transcripts from each of the interviews.

The manufacturing market research company will debrief with the client at the conclusion of the
market research through a scheduled meeting. The report with any final edits along with supporting files will be emailed to the client at the conclusion of the project.

Want to see what one of the Drive Research blinded market research reports looks like? Email us at [email protected] and we'll send it along to you.

Contact our Manufacturing Market Research Company

Drive Research is a manufacturing market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our manufacturing and industrial clients span across the United States. We work with manufacturers to get the feedback and answers needed to help accelerate strategy and the customer experience (CX). Our Voice of Customer (VoC) surveys are used time and time again by manufacturers because they are cost-effective, offer a quick turnaround, and obtain high quality feedback.

Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 315-303-2040.

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