Research is Good. Good Research is Better. Actionable Insights, Best.

Last month I took a big vacation to a beautiful Hawaiian resort. The grounds were beautiful, the rooms luxurious and the views couldn’t be beat. But it was nearly impossible to get a seat by the pool—unless you were willing to get up at the crack of dawn, which I was not– or steal someone’s seat while they were in the water–which I considered but decided against. There was a 45-minute wait for breakfast—at a buffet—although a third of the tables were empty, and so many people, everywhere, I could’ve been on the streets of New York City. A day and a half in, I received a text “from the concierge” saying that they hoped I was enjoying my stay, and would I mind taking a short survey on my experience so far. Oh, and please let them know if there was anything they could do for me. I went to the survey. It was three questions: On a scale from 1-5 how was: check in, my room, the hotel and I easily gave them all a 5. But I wasn’t what you’d call a happy customer. So, I did what any rational CMO of an Insight Technology company would do–I thought they deserved to go beyond their survey to find out how I really felt–and decided to give them my qualitative feedback:

My answer came three days later:

Ultimately, it was a great trip—let’s face it, if I’m lucky enough to go to Hawaii then I’m lucky enough–but since I’ve been back friends have asked me about that resort and I have not recommended it. In fact, I’ve recommended they find another and I already know that if I ever get back to Hawaii, I won’t be staying there. I’m assuming that like most companies, the hotel put this survey in place to learn about their customers, make sure they are happy and find areas for improvement. The problem is, the three questions they asked didn’t tell them the most important pieces of data: was I happy and would I stay there (buy) again or recommend that a friend stay there (advocate)?

In our latest study, How You Research. 2019 Update. We asked you about gathering feedback from your customers—how, when and why. A whopping 70% are trying to understand the customer experience and another 62% measuring brand perception. The sharpest increase has been in customer journey mapping, up 11% percent from 2018.

While 54% of respondents are doing research at least weekly (down slightly from 2018), surveys continue to be the dominant methodology used and the number of methodologies have gone down with in-person interviews and focus groups seeing the biggest decline.

What does this all mean? We are all trying to understand our customers. But I think we need to ask ourselves if what we’ve put in place is helpful and are we able to derive actionable insights that will really make a difference to our bottomlines. A recent study by Forrester, commissioned by FocusVision, revealed that how our customers feel is 1.5 times more important in predicting how they’ll act. This means we have to move beyond the quick survey and dive into how our customers feel. This will require getting closer to your customers to truly understand how they feel and be able to predict how they’ll act (Will they buy again? Will they recommend us to a friend?)

The good news, according to our study, more of you continue to explore different methods with Mobile (ethnographies, diaries, surveys, etc.) remaining at the top of your minds. But not without challenges, namely budget and data integration challenges.

As Marketers and Researchers, the only solution is to pool our resources and to work together to get to those insights that can really have an impact on our businesses. To borrow from that old ad campaign: Data for the sake of data. Useless. Data that gets us to our Customer Truth. Priceless.

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