As market researchers, we have unlimited access to mountains of big data and endless statistics about our customers’ every move. And because we have this, companies can get the unwarranted sense of knowing customers well.
Many brands think they can predict consumers’ next moves. With access to all of this information comes the pressure to make quick, data-driven decisions – especially around the end of the year.
Big data can only describe an issue or validate things people already know. As a result, there is a giant disconnect between how well organizations think they know customers and how well customers think that organizations know them.
According to Bain & Company, a survey of 362 firms found that 80% believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. When customers were asked about their own perceptions, they said just 8% of companies were able to deliver.
The consequence of this customer understanding chasm? Certain failure in the ability to launch new products, find the right product/market fit and deliver strong customer experiences at every stage of the customer life cycle. Worse yet, teams across every level of an organization may feel disconnected from customers, leading to a lack of empathy across the board.
How can insights teams stay close to customers to improve this situation?
Tapping into customer voice
The pandemic rapidly altered the way people go about their day-to-day lives. In order to succeed in this new environment, companies not only need access to big data, they need to extract insights from that data quickly and at scale, turning the data they gather into action. Organizations must also find new ways to tap into customers’ voices and use that to inspire great ideas for new products, advertising and engagement.
We are at a inflection point, with more technologies now available to replicate in situ interactions, structure those interactions and turn them into insights on demand.
And conversations matter. By using qualitative data, companies can amplify the voice of the customer across the business to drive more informed decisions. And while both quantitative (big data) and qualitative (thick data) hold value, it is the intersection of the two that can drive the most impact.
Here are three steps to turn consumer conversations into insights and action.
- Observe. Hold deep, meaningful conversations that get to the heart of the “why” of the customer experience. What disrupted a customer’s lifestyle that brought them to your website? Why did they think your product was better than the competition? Get a window into a customer’s life and decision-making process with online qualitative. Consider techniques and technologies that structure conversations in a way that makes insight extraction more efficient.
- Identify patterns and themes. Distilling observations into insights involves combing through all of the observations you’ve gathered to find meaning, using tools that can get you there. Create a library of interactions organized by key themes and patterns. This will allow you to simplify the process and leverage clip tagging and sentiment analysis tools.
- Share insights across teams. Create and leverage an internal data sharing system that is accessible across the organization. Thick data and qualitative analytics provide the most insight to predict customer behavior, yet often take the most time to share broadly and become understood by the entire organization. In this new environment, thick data needs to move fast and be shared systematically so that it can lead to organizational action more quickly.
Understanding customer needs
Understanding customers isn’t just about speeding up the time between insights to action. Customer empathy must be at the forefront of how every organization functions to deepen relationships with customers and deliver a superior customer experience.
Quantitative data can only get you so far. By integrating big and thick data, organizations are gaining a greater understanding of customer needs, leading to greater customer empathy and experiences. Combining quantitative and qualitative analytics is the future – it holds the key to understanding customers and inspiring organizations to adapt and innovate.