If you are unfamiliar with customer research, it is “a systematic study of a group’s needs or wants” with the goal of “creating products or services that exceed expectations”. It is an essential part of any marketing campaign but requires careful planning and execution to yield accurate results. We all want to offer our customers the best service, but the process begins by understanding them. While other companies are content to provide random surveys and meaningless feedback, influential companies take customer research seriously. By planning and following these ten tips, you will be able to generate a wholly accurate picture of your customers. These simple steps will help create valuable customer experiences that will save your company time and make customers happy.
- Know thy target audience: The first tip is to know your target audience in detail before choosing the appropriate method of gathering information from them. Doing this will help you to determine which tools and methods best suit your needs. For example, if you are conducting a customer research survey, then look for websites such as mShare, Google Docs and Qualtrics to name a few. On the other hand, if you wish to get feedback on your business idea through a focus group meeting, then consider tools such as the following: JotSpot, Survey Monkey and PaperlessPost.
- Prepare the research materials: When it comes to creating your research materials, they must cover all of the necessary information in an unbiased manner. It is also vital that there is no bias in the research material, which means you need to be prepared for all possible questions and areas of research. If you are using a survey tool, it is good to be as specific as possible in your questions. If you are using focus group discussion tools, ensure that you have prepared answers to the most common questions from the users you intend to include in your focus group. When conducting your customer research, make sure to ask open-ended questions that don’t have a clear right or wrong answer. You also need to be observant.
- Conduct user testing: User testing is an excellent way of consulting with real users and enabling them to give feedback about how well your product works based on their experiences with it. Then, you will get some great insights and suggestions on how you can improve your product.
- Be thorough: Include as much information about your product and how it works, as well as the benefits users can expect. It is also essential to ensure that there is no bias in your research material. A great example of biased research material would be an article written by someone who has never used a phone before and is simply writing about it.
- Involve the entire development team: Decide if every development team member must participate in data collection surveys or focus group discussions. If you rely on a user test, you must involve all development team members to gain their input.
- Be organized: Once you have decided which method of customer research to use, follow a structured process and keep in mind the need for consistency and validity. The process should be well-documented to provide all necessary information on how the data was collected, what subjects were covered in the research material before distribution, and any other relevant information pertinent to the study. This will help you to ensure that your results are accurate and reliable.
- Plan your timeline: Determine how long you will have to work on the research and create a written timetable for the entire process. This should include how long you will need to conduct the customer research, who will be involved in the process, what materials need to be created and when these should be completed by. Thus, a high level of consistency will be maintained throughout the study, and notes will be kept on areas where improvements will be needed for future customer research.
- Get feedback: The importance of getting feedback from your customers or potential customers cannot be stressed enough. The best way to do this is to include a feedback section in your customer research material. This will provide you with an opportunity to collect data from both existing and potential customers and will enable you to improve your products or services continuously. Documenting customer feedback allows you to view the process as it happens and take immediate action on any areas of concern or customer satisfaction.
- Prepare your participants for the study: If you conduct a customer research study through an online survey or focus group discussion, you must prepare the participants in advance as they need to know what to expect before submitting their feedback. You can send out an email with the details about the project and ensure that everyone is aware of how long they will be participating in the study before they begin. To gather meaningful information about your audience or customers, you should always ask their permission before sharing or collecting information from them. You should get feedback (both positive and negative) from everyone you interview and anyone else who will be using or interacting with the product. Make sure to keep your target audience in the loop throughout each step of the process so that you can gain their trust and ensure that they still feel heard or valued.
- Be clear: Make sure that your research materials are free of ambiguity and are written straightforwardly. Ensure that your questions and areas of focus are clearly outlined at the beginning of your survey, as this will remove any potential confusion amongst participants. When conducting a focus group discussion, be clear about the issues you want to investigate to allow maximum participation.
At ParallelScore, we would love to hear any other tips or best practices you have found as you were performing customer research. Please share with us on Twitter or LinkedIn!