5 Reasons Market Research is Still Relevant in a Big Data World Part 5

Primary, qualitative research can build customer relationships


By: Robyn Cauchy

(Check out parts one, two, three, and four here.)

In the last post of this series I will discuss the 5th reason primary research adds value in a big-data world: customers feel appreciated when brands they do business with request their input. The volume and passion of commentary on websites like Zappos.com and campaigns like Frito Lays’ “Do Us A Flavor” contest is strong evidence of customers’ desire to interact with brands and provide feedback.

Customers feel especially appreciated when brands earnestly reach out to them to help fix an experience that is broken, or ask them to co-create a new experience. John Williams — the founding partner of WikiSolutions — describes co-creation in this post for The Guardian:

“Co-creation is the difference between people creating a great idea for you and people working with you to make a good idea great. It works because even the greatest creative rarely knows the complete answer — usually they know part of it or have a hunch. Someone somewhere probably knows another part of the solution, and so on, until a complete picture appears. [It is a] planning tool to gain insight, to help refine concepts, turning small, bad ideas into big, great ones, using it to understand the real issues and needs of all stakeholders.”

Gathering insights from various stakeholders, including customers and end users is ideally something that should happen frequently throughout the conceptualization, design, and development of a project. Co-creating with customers and end users at the following two stages of product development is especially powerful for building strong relationships:

1. Right at the beginning: customers and end users appreciate the opportunity to explain what drives them, and to clarify any issues they have with a product upfront. They’re often proud to describe work-arounds they’ve discovered, or highlight work-arounds that they’ve been waiting for. These directional insights on what customer and end user need helps set a project down the right path, and provides important clues for design nuances.

At GALE, we like to run co-creation workshops right at the beginning of projects. We bring together customers and end users with designers, technologists, and business decision makers to help build insights and inform our strategic direction. These are usually full day sessions that produce tremendous insights and discoveries.

2. Before the build: We do a lot of user testing at GALE. After designing experiences we know have overall utility, we want to get the usability details right to ensure that adoption feels as natural as possible. This kind of testing not only lets customers know that you care about their needs, it gives them a chance to confirm the solution will work for them.

I’ve facilitated many co-creation workshops, and often a customer participant will pull me aside afterwards to say how much more they respect, and feel connected to a brand after attending the workshop. As a quick contrast, think about design decisions driven purely by algorithms and A/B testing — these are tactics that we highly recommend and implement, but at the best of times, customers don’t have visibility into how much time and thought we’ve put into understanding them, and at the worst of times, these tactics can come off as pushy and impersonal.

To reinforce brand-customer relationships, what is truly essential is a commitment to act on the insights provided, and fix problems in a way that is meaningful to customers.

While GALE is a technology and data-driven agency at its core, it’s also an agency that takes customer and end user input very seriously. We’ve built a suite of capabilities to help our clients engage customers and end users through surveys, testing and co-creation; and we routinely integrate this combination of capabilities into project delivery. This integrated approach to big data analysis, primary qualitative research, and testing ensures that research gets at the right questions at the right time, and is directed to the right audience. At GALE, we ask essential questions at key moments during product design and development, and leverage customer input to help our clients make decisions with confidence.

Robyn Cauchy is a Sr. Manager of Marketing Strategy at GALE. She brings almost a decade of primary research experience to the GALE team and leads our Ask GALE survey and co-creation function. Her passion extends beyond marketing strategy and tactics into the realm of holistic customer experiences; she thrives on helping brands connect with and understand their consumers to create truly meaningful, relationship-building experiences.

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