How to keep customers – and keep them happy using Customer Research
Riding the feedback wave
Ever wonder who invented surfing? Apparently the Polynesians invented the sport in the 12th century. But what’s more interesting is imagining a person watching waves and thinking, “I need to ride that.” Not to mention the fact that someone actually had the guts to make a surfboard and do it.
Conducting customer research is similar. If you want your business to focus on customer satisfaction, you must adapt your customer research methods and strategies accordingly.
What’s more, customer research is not a once-off, hang-ten deal. On the one hand, you need to invest more time, money, and resources to keep up with changing customer needs. On the other, you have more tools and methods available to collect and analyse the data.
Why do customers’ needs change so often?
- Technological innovation creates new ways of delivering value to customers, leading to new challenges. For example, customers today want faster, easier, and more personalised experiences across multiple channels and devices.
- Social and cultural shifts affect how customers perceive and interact with brands. For example, people are more conscious of social and environmental issues and want brands to align with these values and beliefs.
- Competitive pressures crowd the market, with startups and alternative ideas offering similar or better solutions. For example, there are more choices and access to information than ever before, meaning customers can switch brands in seconds.
Staying agile and responsive through continuous research
A continuous research approach is one of the key strategies for adapting your research to changing customer needs. This means conducting customer research on an ongoing basis rather than a few stages.
This helps you to:
- Capture real-time feedback: Collect feedback from customers as they interact with your products or services in their natural context, to understand how they use your solutions in real life, the problems and benefits they experience, and suggestions they may have.
- Validate assumptions: You know what they say about assumptions? They’re the mother of all…um…mistakes. That’s because you can’t make informed decisions based on outdated or inaccurate data. Seek evidence-based insights.
- Identify market trends: Track changes in customer feedback over time and identify trends and patterns indicating shifts in customer needs. This will help you anticipate future customer demands, spot new opportunities, and adapt your strategies.
Customer feedback loops for relevance and competitiveness
Customer feedback loops are the processes of collecting, analysing, and acting on customer feedback. They help close the gap between customer expectations and what your business delivers.
This process consists of four stages:
- Collect: Gathering customer feedback using surveys, reviews, ratings, comments, and social media posts.
- Analyse: Processing and interpreting customer feedback using various techniques and tools, such as statistics, graphs, charts, text, and sentiment analysis.
- Act: Implementing changes or improvements based on customer feedback using strategies and tools like prioritisation, roadmaps, prototypes, and testing.
- Repeat: Measuring the impact of your actions on customer feedback using metrics like satisfaction scores, retention rates, and referrals.
These loops are critical for maintaining relevance, improving loyalty, enhancing word-of-mouth, and gaining a competitive advantage.
How to surf the wave of continuous research
- Catch the wave at the right time: Conduct customer research at the right moments in your product or service lifecycle. For example, when launching a new offering, you can conduct research before, during, and after the launch to validate your value proposition, monitor customer reactions, and measure satisfaction.
- Balance yourself on the board: Ensure you strike the perfect balance between quantity and quality data. Use quantitative methods (surveys or web analytics) to collect large amounts of data and qualitative methods (interviews or observations) to gather more personalised insights from a smaller test group.
- Respond to the direction and speed of the wave: Adjust your techniques to the changing customer landscape. You can use open-ended or close-ended questions and different incentives (rewards and recognition), depending on the detail and level of engagement you’re looking for.
- Avoid rocks, sharks and other surfers: Dodge common pitfalls and challenges that can compromise the validity of your data. There’s no point in doing any research if you ask biased questions that have the potential to influence your customers’ responses.
It’s all about being agile
It’s not enough to be proactive if you can’t be flexible. The world is changing and so are ideas, preferences and actions. Just like you can’t surf once and expect to understand the ocean, you can’t research once and know your customers forever.
Not a surfer? Neither are we. But we are good at customer research and feedback loops. Call InteractRDT ; we can help.
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