This article shares our perspective on the why, what, and how of “hasty customer research.”
The impetus to share is motivated by our desire to see more companies embed Voice-of-the-Customer into everyday business processes.
For example, we recently completed a project for the CEO of an emerging growth enterprise SAAS company. In his words, the results provided “game-changing insights impacting every aspect of the business: product, demand generation, and service.”
Why is Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) important?
A VoC program helps you build a truly customer-centric business. It gives you the insight necessary to inform decisions and respond to customer needs – and exceed expectations.
Look no further than Amazon for an example of how VoC has the power to disrupt the status quo, upend business models, and monetize value creation.
The opposite is also true: not having a mechanism for VoC puts you on a path to market irrelevance.
A quick word on types of VoC
There are many types of VoC research. Some are quantitative, which aims for measurement. Some are qualitative, which is exploratory and often associated with focus groups.
Other forms of VoC include user experience (UX), intercept surveys, mystery shopping, and others. If you want a primer on mystery shopping, contact us.
The following are our tips and tricks for game-changing one-on-one research conversations.
#1 Speed matters
Ninety days should be sufficient from the moment you approve the project until the presentation of findings. This is true whether you are using internal staff or an external business partner like us.
It’s called “hasty” research for a reason: You get the insight fast, then apply it quickly.
#2 Conversation length
As a general rule, a research conversation should last at least 20 minutes. Anything less is a waste of time.
In our experience, interviewees enjoy sharing their perspective. Many are willing to speak for 30 minutes or longer. Recently a client’s customer gave us a full hour of their time when we asked for 20 minutes. The insight was pure gold.
#3 Relevant questions
The objective of hasty research will vary based on your business needs. Our focus is customer acquisition and retention, so our questions go like this:
- How did you first hear about the solution?
- Who in the organization is responsible for making the decision?
- What challenges are you facing currently?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “very important,” how important is fixing this, or these, issues?
- What has prevented you from taking action in the past?
- What do the conditions need to be to act now?
- What objections must you overcome when deciding whether to purchase a solution like this?
Many of these questions can be easily adapted to conversations with current customers,
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 “Most Satisfied,” how much value is your organization getting from the solution?
- Please explain how this helps your organization every day?
- Why did you purchase the solution when you did?
- How would you feel if you could no longer use the solution?
- What is the one thing that would cause you to stop using the solution?
#4 Call recordings
Taking notes is good, but it is hard to do this and guide the conversation at the same time.
We always ask the respondent if we can record the conversation. After literally 100s of conversations, everyone we interviewed has said, “yes.” Now you can revisit, transcribe, and share with ease.
#5 Precision follow-up
Even the best questionnaire can’t fully prepare you for opportunities that present themselves when talking with customers in this setting.
Several of our “go-to” next level respondent questions are:
- Can you explain more?
- Why do you feel that way?
- What did you mean by that?
- What triggered your last comment?
- What do you wish it actually did?
- How should it change?
The insight that comes from this level of dialogue is priceless.
Should I do this in-house or use an expert?
The most persuasive argument against conducting VoC research in-house is bias. Your customers will likely not give you an honest opinion.
Think of it as “messy roommate bias.” If you are looking for accurate and reliable feedback, particularly negative feedback, customers want to talk to a third-party.
The choice is a tough one. Perceived cost savings versus inaccurate or unreliable results.
Time to learn more
We are happy to share more about our approach as well as sample questionnaires.