Imagine if your customer call center let you know nine months to a year later that your company was experiencing wide-spread problems with a product. That is the phenomenon that happens with market research, you receive customer opinions months after the opinions have actually been gathered (and even longer after they are formed), decreasing its relevance.
A market research project timeline frequently can run months before you even get to the point of data collection. The amount of time expended to get to that point involves countless meetings to determine what you’re even going to research. Then after the data collection, it will take several months to actually obtain actionable customer insight. Then companies must decide to how to incorporate the insight obtained – if they do at all. And really, what is the point of doing research at all if you can’t act on it?
Rather than gathering data through tiresome and expensive consumer focus groups or surveys, companies should realize that the information is out there for companies to grab now. Whether via online communities, blogs or forums, customers are already giving thousands of verbatim feedback comments about products and services – comments that could have a significant effect on your brand and profitability if you can act on them, and potential negative consequences if you don’t.
As a recent Wall Street Journal article , “The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World,” referenced “…as a way to obtain consumer feedback and ideas for product development, the online community is much faster and cheaper than the traditional focus groups and surveys used in the past.”
As with all comments, whether received online or offline, companies struggle to analyze the feedback effectively. As we’ve stated previously, hand coding isn’t an effective way to arrive at smart business decisions. Social media content analytics like The Customer Insight Portal allow companies to obtain actionable customer insight in minutes, not months.
In a tightened economy, users frequently will hear the adage ”Do more with less.” For market researchers, this isn’t as hard as it may seem if they can capitalize on the feedback that is already out there.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Many of the market researchers and custom experience managers we have met during the course of 2008, view customer verbatims, the open-ended comments received by companies through surveys, contact centers and many other channels, as a potential goldmine of customer insight. But verbatims are also seen as a waste of time by many because of the manual, unscientific nature of manual coding, which often destroys their relevance when clear business decisions need to be made.
Here is a sampling of the absurd:
“We take 100 comments every 6 months and have them manually coded. That’s it.”
“I spend 50% of my time just reading verbatims.”
These come from well-placed managers at market-leading corporations.
Manual coding is slow, biased (one coder won’t do it the same as the next, I don’t care what you say), and certainly is expensive. Manual coding also relies on categories. Some categorization methods don’t allow comments to be coded into more than one category. When’s the last time a customer said something in a sentence or two and didn’t cover a lot of ideas? Never. Also categorized comments don’t do anything in terms of identifying relationships between ideas and meaningful trends.
Slow and expensive market research initiatives aren’t an answer that works for many companies. Plus, there are many more organic sources of vertabims arising, especially online and from Web 2.0 sites, meaning companies need to look at all the verbatims to gather the information needed to understand the behaviors and needs of their customers.
To be a customer insight driven organization, a business can’t ignore 80 percent of the information your customers provide you. By ignoring the resources at their fingertips, companies are missing a huge opportunity to identify emergent customer issues, and to test and measure new methods for making customers happy and loyal.
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