One of the best ways to make improvements to your business is to better understand how your customer experiences your products or services. The best way to do this is by mapping out their experience and then looking for opportunities to make those improvements. Think of it as the ultimate road trip where you get to ride along with your customer. You can map out the entire trip, such as making an initial contact through a sale, or just a specific interaction. The mapping process takes a few key steps: define the customer, conduct research, and develop the map.
If you're thinking about launching a new product or service, a critical first step is going through a customer discovery process. The process typically consists of deciding what problem you are solving for your customer, and then testing that out with potential customers. Creating a persona for the intended customer will allow you to begin generating a list of questions which can be used during customer interviews. Here are some sample interview questions to consider:
One of the best ways to communicate value to your potential customer is by showcasing how you have already helped a current or past customer.
Here are a few tips for writing compelling case studies:
- Tell the story from the perspective of a potential customer. Be results-driven in your language so that prospect sees how your can meet their specific needs. Include all the relevant details such as the customer name, project title and goals. Describe exactly how you met the goals. What will the long-term effect be for the customer? Demonstrate why you were successful.
One of the most important choices in any research project is the methodology used to collect data. Every method has its strengths and weaknesses, and they are sometimes used together in a project.
Let's look at two of the most popular choices, surveys and focus groups. Surveys are composed of a series of questions used to gather opinions, thoughts, and feelings from a sample of the population. They are conducted over the phone, via email, and online. Focus groups are a gathering of 10-12 people who are asked about their perceptions and opinions during a session led by a trained moderator.
- Quantitative—data is gathered using a quantitative (numerical) process.
- Gathered from a statistically valid sample of your target market/population.
- Help you identify trends, measure awareness, gauge satisfaction, and overall interest.
- Are often used for benchmarking.
- Can be conducted in-person, online, over the phone and by mail.
- Qualitative—data is gathered using qualities or characteristics.
- Good for in-depth questions.
- Help you obtain information about motivations, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
- Allow you to easily test images, concepts, and campaigns.
- Are most often conducted in-person.
Some projects require a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data in order to comprehensively meet your goals. Choosing the right method can mean success or failure, so choose wisely.
Debra Power, president of Power Marketing Research, is is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Eastern Michigan University College of Business. She teaches the senior-level course Marketing Research 470. This required course covers the fundamentals of marketing research and advanced techniques in using research to make marketing decisions. Debra has added many new dimensions to the course, especially the addition of hands-on activities that include implementing real-world surveys and focus groups. Students also participate in a real-world mystery shopping exercise.