Getting started with Customer Research
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it many threats to brands. For many brands, the pandemic has changed the relationship they have with their customers. Supply and distribution shortages, as well as disruptions to services, mean that customers have had the opportunity to try new brands, or even go without products and services that they have used for years.
Now, as much as ever, it is important to understand your existing customers and how you can ensure that they stick with your brand.
Fortunately, customer research is easily accessible, and many brands already have a direct line to their customers that can be used for research. Whether it’s through customer databases or even social media, there is a good chance that your brand has a customer research sample ready and waiting.
Types of customer research:
The first thing you will need to decide is what type of research you need – ongoing or ad-hoc?
Ongoing, transactional customer research
For service-based brands, tracking customer experiences closely is critical. This involves conducting research as soon after they have dealt with you as possible, in order to track perceptions of service levels and performance.
- How do they rate your performance? Are they satisfied?
- What was good or bad about their experience?
- Would they recommend your brand to others?
One of our clients Health Partners, a private health insurer, has a customised customer research dashboard updated daily with service performance across each of their dental, optical and physio practices, as well as their sales teams. This allows them to pinpoint precisely how each different business area is performing as well as being able to drill down into location and quickly identify potential problem areas. It also includes a red-flag system to immediately identify any customers who need to be followed up.
Ad-hoc customer research
It’s also important to investigate the opinions of those who may have not necessarily been in contact with your brand touchpoints. This research can be quantitative or qualitative, and will help you understand how well your product or service performs in the real world, and how likely current users are to keep coming back.
- How satisfied are they with your product or service?
- How do they perceive your brand?
- What do they like or dislike about the brand? What about other brands?
- How likely are they to buy or use the brand again?
- What can you do to help keep your customers happy?
We recently conducted an online qualitative Virtual Workshop for Revlon in the cosmetics category, by recruiting participants from the brand’s loyalty club. This research helped identify why people signed up to the loyalty club, what they wanted from it, and how best to communicate with them.
Asking the questions is only the start
So you have researched your customers and collected the data. What now?
For ongoing customer research, it’s vital to see the results as soon as possible, and in particular to flag any problem areas. Real-time reporting via an online dashboard allows you to monitor feedback immediately and can alert you to any issues or problems, or any systems and processes that have failed.
Insight and strategy
I may be biased, but I believe there is no substitute for experienced and expert researchers to provide real insight and direction and to help you get the most value from the data. Too many times, I have seen clients come to us after being underwhelmed by research they had done elsewhere, with lots of numbers and little insight.
Whether you are researching your own customers or the whole market, just having the numbers is where the real work begins – not just understanding the results but also communicating the implications across your business.
How to get started
Getting started with customer research is easier than you think. I'd be happy to help you if you'd like to find out more - please just contact me directly.