Research has been part of your entire life. School reports, global news, even deciding what movie to watch—over time, all these things have made you familiar with the research process.
When it comes to customer research, however, that familiar old pattern isn’t always your best option. In fact, it could be weighing you down.
Today, we’re talking about how to reimagine research in ways that benefit both your customers and your business, helping you create rich experiences (and great data, too). Let’s get started!
The wrong way to do research
Is there really a wrong way to do customer research? If you’ve ever experienced situations like these, you know the answer is yes:
- Rigid structure: Maybe you found a research method that works for you and you’re sticking to it. That’s great—but if this structure is too rigid, you’ll discourage researcher creativity and lose audience engagement.
- Lack of coordination: Do multiple research groups contact the same customer with the same questions? That’s a recipe for frustration, both for your teams and your audience.
- Disorganized communication methods: If communication is disjointed, infrequent, and delivered in too many formats, customers may have difficulty finding the information they need to participate in your research projects. Worse yet, they might lose interest and stop engaging entirely.
- Unclear purpose: Sometimes you know exactly what you need from customers, but can’t articulate it. Other times, you might not know what the purpose of a research project actually is. In either case, you run the risk of having customers ask one crushing question: “Why does this matter to me?”
The simple truth is that customer research involves a lot of moving parts. If you stick with a process that isn’t working, you’ll lose control of these key elements and eventually will have to say goodbye to once interested customers.
How to reimagine your research strategy
The good news is that your research strategy doesn’t have to be weighed down by these problems. All you have to do is reimagine the process with a different goal in mind.
Too often, companies like yours hear the words “customer research” and get too focused on the “research” part. This can create an experience where customers feel like they’re just means to an end. It can also create many of the problems we discussed above.
Instead of focusing too much on the research itself, set a new goal: creating unforgettable experiences for your customers. By shifting the focus, you can avoid processes that make people feel like numbers on a page.
Here are a few elements you should consider when restructuring your customer research strategy:
- Eliminating silos: Your process should be intricate and interconnected. That means you should break down the walls between different research groups and allow everyone to collaborate in ways that benefit both the data and the customers providing it. This also allows teams to be mindful of each other’s projects and avoid overwhelming your audience with too many participation requests.
- Improving customer communication: Your audience deserves respect. Make sure you communicate with them clearly and consistently, like when explaining why they didn’t qualify for a research project or offering a gift in thanks for their participation.
- Staying consistent: Create a set of internal expectations to share across the entire research team. This helps you show a united front—one that makes customers feel like they’re interacting with the same company every time they engage in one of your research projects.
- Showcasing results: When it comes to customer research, you always need to close the loop. Show customers the results of your projects so they understand just how valuable their input can be. Don’t forget to celebrate them with member spotlights and other fun events.
- Thinking proactively: If your research strategy is reactive, you have a problem. Instead, think proactively about how to set up member profiles that will match users to ideal research opportunities. This doesn’t just make your job easier—it also helps customers feel like the research experience is personalized to their preferences and interests.
Better research, better results
It’s easy to get caught up in reimagining your teams, communication, and user engagement opportunities, but don’t forget the value behind all this: A customer-centric research process leads to customer-centric data. When your audience feels engaged, listened to, and fully appreciated, they’ll be more likely to engage with additional research projects and give you further insights into their perspectives.
Are you ready to learn more about the customer research process and how to reimagine it? Watch our webinar, “Keeping Customers Highly Engaged — Closing the Loop on Research.” Plus, don’t forget to check out other blogs and webinars in our Alida Activate series!