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Random Sampling: Our Weekly Roundup of Ideas to Grow By

SurroundedWe’re always following companies and looking for interesting approaches to market growth and building brands. Every Friday we pick our recent favorites to share with you.

We spend a lot of time talking to our clients’ customers and sales people to help uncover problem areas.  It’s crucial to your company’s growth to find out: (1) are your sales people adequately servicing your customers? (2) is your company giving them the necessary training/resources to do so?  This article offers compelling examples of why this area of your business needs your attention:  Are You Paying Enough Attention to Your Sales Force?

Yet another great reminder of why shopper insights research is a must-have for retailers: Understanding the Stages of Retail

Okay, this new product is a little morbid…but consumers’ unmet needs (a.k.a. business growth opportunities) are all around us, waiting to be found. And sometimes that requires delving into more sensitive topics. Google Releases Tool to Deal With Your Data After Death

These firms successfully created growth opportunities using some of the techniques we covered in a recent post.  Find out…Why the Future of Innovation is in Ideas, Not Products.

 

3 Smart Ways to Get More Value from Your Research

Looking to provide great insights to your team? But finding you’re victim to the Incredible Shrinking Research Budget? Here’s how to be more efficient yet still deliver powerful results.

Narrow your focus.

Maybe your instinct is to “go broad” and include more stakeholder objectives in your surveys. This may seem like a good way to keep everybody happy but could actually be harmful to your research. If you want to provide truly actionable feedback –and therefore better ROI– it’s wise to stay focused and go deeper on one topic.

By zeroing-in on a very short list of research questions, you can get more depth of information with the same budget that would have been spent on a broad, superficial look at several issues.

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how often the “since we’re talking to them anyway…” argument ends up diluting the effectiveness of research projects.
Since everyone in the market has a good understanding of the basics that drive customer behavior, these deeper layers of learning are often what it takes to outmaneuver the competition.

Be ruthless about tying research to action.

As you’re planning the research, really push your internal clients to answer the question: “what will you do with the outcome of this research?”

Do not accept any answer that is not a clear, concrete action step. If you do get vague responses, keep probing. This process will help you…

a) alter the research to better fit what your client really needs to know
b) get your client to stay focused on their true objective

If this exercise doesn’t produce a clear link between the research and real, tangible actions to be taken, the best thing to do is to kill the project. Remember, money spent on research is wasted if no one does anything with the results.

Report information — not data.

How many times have you hired a research supplier and received a report of findings that was little more than a bar chart of each question?

After spending all that time upfront getting the project focused, you need a deliverable that hands your team the answers they need.

Structure your reports around the core research questions and the insights gained, not around the survey questions. Tell the story in the data by organizing your report something like this:

 

This format makes the WHAT take a back seat to the SO WHAT– as it should. Demand your research supplier (if you’re using one) deliver results in this format. If they can’t do it, find another supplier.

Case study: Take the time to take inventory

While tracking studies are useful for monitoring brand health they can easily become too lengthy and lose their focus. Don’t waste valuable respondent time on questions that aren’t really adding value.

Recently we sat down with one of our clients to review a tracking study that had been running for several years. We analyzed their current survey to figure out how to make it more efficient and insight-friendly. We were able to trim down the survey and omit unnecessary questions. For example, respondents were asked where they’d heard about the client’s brand. Historically, their answers had never changed – everyone learned about the brand from the same two sources – and no one could envision a scenario where it would change in the near future. This wasn’t providing any new information so it was removed.

We also found ways to rotate some questions in or out of the survey depending upon business activity. This allowed them to ask these questions when it really counted – at the time they could (and would) take action based on the results.

So there you have three ways to extract more value from the research dollars you spend. Putting any one of them to use can help you make great strides in increasing ROI. Applying them all could very well make you a legend within your company.

 

How to make your Net Promoter Score useful

A lot of marketers and executives love NPS®.  The appeal is clear – a single number that can tell you how happy your customers are and, as its creators claim, can actually predict the finical success of your company.  All this from one single question.

The NPS score looks good on a dashboard and it provides the coveted “single number.”  There’s a problem, though.

In and of itself, your NPS score is totally useless.

Like the scores on standardized tests you took in school, the score doesn’t mean much by itself.  What mattered about your test scores was how you did relative to everyone else.  Similarly, your company’s NPS score can only be interpreted in the context of how other companies perform and how your company has performed in the past.

Even then, the score might tell you that things are “good” or “bad”, but don’t give you any actionable information that you can use to improve your company’s performance.

So how can you make the NPS tracking that you’ve invested in useful?

The NPS score is the start, not the end, of understanding your customer’s satisfaction.  Only by understanding the context in which a customer scored your company the way they did can you get actionable information.

How can you do that?

Find out why

The first step is to follow up the NPS rating with an open ended question that asks why.  This is recommended in the Reichheld book, but I’ve seen many cases where this was omitted by people implementing NPS.  This step alone can greatly increase the value you can get from NPS, but there’s more that can be done.

Understanding drivers

Applying quantitative analysis techniques to the NPS score and the reasons given for the score can uncover patterns that help you understand what elements drive satisfaction.  The easy way to do this is to ask a series of rating questions about various aspects of the customer experience and to perform a regression analysis on the data.  The danger in this approach is that you miss what actually matters to customers.

An alternative is to code the open ended responses and use those codes as explanatory variables in a quantitative analysis.  Depending on the volume of responses you are working with (I’ve seen companies with tens of thousands), a manual coding of open ended remarks may be impractical or prohibitively expensive.  Manual coding of large volumes of open ends also invites data problems from inconsistent coding of responses.

Some of the current text analysis software does a good job of automating much of this process (no thoughtful analysis can ever be totally automated), which makes the processing of large datasets much more feasible. At a minimum, these systems speed up the process and ensure consistency in the coding of comments.  The best systems can also help interpret meaning and sentiment, as well as uncover relationships (X and Y are often mentioned together, for example).

Once coded and used in quantitative analytics, a much better picture of customer satisfaction starts to emerge.  As you start to understand why your NPS score was what it was, you can take action to improve business outcomes.

Round out the data with who and where

By adding some profile and purchase context information to the mix, you can begin to understand what customer groups you are serving more or less successfully.  This information helps you find other people like the happy customers, focusing your customer acquisition activities.

So, NPS is a good start, but it isn’t enough to really understand your market or successfully compete.  Add the understanding of why (open ends), who (profile), and when (purchase context), apply some thoughtful analysis, and you’ve got a recipe for real customer insight.

If you’d like a copy of this article suitable for printing, click here for a PDF version.

® Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld

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