What’s missing from your marketing data?

I’ve worked in the market research industry for the better part of 15 years. Nearly every company I’ve worked with conducted some form of customer experience research. After transacting with a customer, a business naturally wants to know how they performed, and have specific KPIs to track. Did the customer leave happy? Did they fulfill expectations? Were there any problems and where did they occur?

Commonly, we can follow up with a customer using a feedback survey. This might include an NPS score or an overall satisfaction rating. Measuring specific performance pillars is also a key objective, and clients can have set ideas about what these are. For a restaurant, it might be ‘food quality,’ ‘cleanliness,’ or ‘customer service.” This kind of customer feedback survey results in very robust, objective data, which can be monitored using a dashboard. Managers know exactly where customer scores were on a given week, which locations were underperforming on ‘cleanliness’ and which restaurants met their KPI target.

But what does this kind of research really tell us? Take a project that I worked on for a restaurant chain, we knew exactly 23% of customers were not satisfied with the quality of their food in the San Antonio location during the month of August. For the regional manager, the first reaction to this was: this is not good news, followed by a set of questions…is there anything in your data that can tell me how to fix that? What exactly is it about the food quality the customers didn’t like? These questions were difficult to answer with the ratings data from the customer surveys. And the open end feedback was often sparse or lacking specific detail. Essentially, we were missing the ‘why’ in the data. We had the number 23%, but no customer stories or testimonials that would narrate particular experience or details behind their ratings. In short, we were missing the customer’s voice.

I have found that customers are usually quite happy to share how they feel and talk about their experience. But the insights we get from them are only going to be as good as the questions we ask. A ratings question will give us ratings data, best used to benchmark and indicate trends. If we want to hear the customer’s voice, we should ask for that too, and provide a platform for the customer to share their stories with us. Traditionally, this meant trying to stop people at a mall to ask for their opinion, or to develop a localized focus group environment to allow an open dialogue and use probing questions. But now it’s never been easier for us to connect with customers. Today’s technology means that having a face to face conversation with our customer is only click away using video calls, making it easier to coordinate for both the moderator and the participant.  Video calls or video chat have exploded in the last few years. In 2016, Facebook added video chat to its messenger app and reported last year that 400 million people were using the service every month. Slack, Line, and Skype have also remained active with their own video-call solutions adding group chat and additional mobile enhancements to their services. Not to be outdone, Google also in 2016, released a new app called “Duo” which promised fewer dropped video calls and seamless connection handoff between wifi and cellular.

Our FocusVision InterVu live webcam interview software is specifically tailored for marketing professionals to collect testimonials from their customers. Calls can be recorded and archived for later playback and sharing of insights. InterVu is a secure, web-based solution that doesn’t require a software download or a third-party app. Nor is a sign in or account required. We’ve designed InterVu Now to provide the busy professional with an easy to use, hassle-free experience for conducting customer interviews. You do not have to lean on a research expert or a consultant anymore. With webcam sessions, multiple stakeholders can listen in privately and observe the interview session without being seen or heard by the customer. These can be recorded for later playback or edited into short clips to share and distribute key findings.

In a recent series of interviews I conducted, the client wanted to better understand perceptions of their brand in relation to a key competitor. Also, a key objective was to understand the purchase levers for each of the brands. We had customers narrate why they preferred one brand over the other and to describe a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experience with each. It became immediately apparent that one brand had a strong reputation for ‘value’ and ‘good deals’ while the other was known for service and providing customers with a no-hassle experience. Most importantly, having these video testimonials narrated by real consumers breathed life into the survey data. Instead of seeing open end text responses or data tables, stakeholders could hear from the customers themselves. A data point on a rating scale became a 30-second story about a person’s struggles with customer service. The videos allow stakeholders to really feel the experience of the customers. Through direct observation, the team could go back to the drawing board for solutions to the specific situation and problem areas they witnessed from customers.

When we can talk face to face in a video call with our customers, everybody in the room (and marketing managers know there are a lot of people to please — developers, designers, product managers, sales, and so on) now can have a direct line to the voice that matters most. We can listen to the customer problems in their own words and we can observe on the screen how they are using our products. Data and numbers are one thing. But when we can bring the customers voice into the room to share their stories, and understand the ‘why’, that is what people remember most.

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