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With the eye of an expert. How to regularly keep your target group up-to-date? Research optimization

Twice as much revenue growth as competitors. On a five-year scale, 32% faster revenue growth than other companies in their industry. Where are these figures coming from and what do they relate to?

 

The above data comes from the report “The business value of design” created at the end of 2018 by McKinsey & Company. The publication concerns the impact of an organization’s maturity in user-oriented design on its revenues or other business aspects. The numbers are impressive, right?

What exactly is user-oriented action about? First of all, business decisions based on the real needs and preferences of our customers, and these are based on regular research and an up-to-date insight into our target group.

 

What else do we get from the latest updates on our customers?

The knowledge about the current needs, feelings or emotions of the target group should be the basis for making business decisions. With this knowledge we are also able to considerably increase the ROI (Return on Investment) of our investments or speed up our actions, and thus build a market advantage faster.  However, this data is not only a powerful tool for CEOs or business owners, but also a support for marketing, sales or customer service teams and an invaluable source of development ideas (according to the “State of Leadership 2020” report by Pendo, as much as 32% of the best business ideas come from our clients).

So how to stay up-to-date with your knowledge of the target group?

To ensure this subject is covered in our organization, it should be considered from the perspective of at least some of the following aspects:

  • the goal and its communication,
  • the responsibility,
  • the process,
  • the tools,
  • rituals.

The issue of motivation and purpose behind regular research was discussed in the first paragraph, but it is worth ensuring proper communication among other members of the organization and specifying the dependencies between the knowledge we have and the potential benefits for business.

Why should the whole organization know the value of this knowledge? It is very strongly connected with another aspect, namely the responsibility for research.And here we must stress that it should not only be the responsibility of researchers or development teams, but of the entire organizationall employees should become researchers and become interested in their customers.  Only this way we are able to have a truly up-to-date knowledge of our customers throughout their entire experience, but also to use this knowledge in the daily challenges faced by the business.

 

The process, tools and rituals as the key to success

Another element is the process of collecting information itself and the tools used for this purpose. 

In order to build this process, it is worth starting with the key metrics and information that are most important and prove the condition of our business. It is necessary to confront the reflections of people from different departments of the organization. 

An interesting way of visualizing data derived from various teams, and at the same time making it easier to understand our recipients, is to use the Customer Journey Map tool (the User Journey Map – illustrates the whole path the client follows from the moment the need arises to its fulfillment). This allows us to gather the most important information for the whole organization in one place – from the so-called personas, meaning a description of who our recipient is, to information on how their path looks like before finding our organization (useful for marketing departments), during sales (here both the knowledge and its exploitation will be discovered by sales departments), to using the service and returning (execution teams or customer service departments).

Such visualization in one document (with references to source data) allows not only everyone to see the correlations that exist between various decisions, but also to keep the knowledge about our client in one place, motivating to keep it updated.

Once we have defined what we are going to measure and how, we should also determine the way of collecting the data (here it is worth noting that we collect both quantitative and qualitative data), that is, what sources or tools we are going to use. Here comes the whole spectrum of possibilities. Here are some of them:

  • individual in-depth interviews (IDI) – regular interviews will allow us to deepen our knowledge of our customers’ needs and motivations on a regular basis and provide, for example, valuable knowledge for marketing departments;
  • automatic feedback survey – sent by the tool after, for example, a finished service or product purchase, allowing to automatically measure customer satisfaction, NPS (Net Promoter Score) or further demand;
  • lost customers analysis (so-called “losts”) – the information about the type of customers who have not used our services is also very useful, whether for marketing or sales teams.

These are just a few different examples of the methods or tools that should be used regularly to provide key information for the entire organization. Each piece of information should be assigned a source or tool as to how it should be obtained.

Once we know how to visualize data, where and how to obtain it, it is up to us to turn the process into team rituals. Why and how?

Building the process itself and selecting the tools will not yet ensure that our knowledge is up-to-date. Here we have to create rituals that help us collect information in a more “automatic” way. In this case, we need to identify the so-called triggers that will start collecting information at each step. For example:

  • an automatic survey sent to the customer after the service is completed;
  • the analysis of the sales funnel of the marketing and sales team after the promotional action is finished;
  • quarterly individual interviews with a potential target group in order to verify their needs and adjust the marketing message.

The trigger can be both event (end of service) and time (every quarter), but when it comes to time-based research, you should pay attention to automating the reminders or starting the process in regular cycles.

 

How to optimize research?

To ensure that our efforts do not turn out to be just a fantasy, we must also make sure that the tests themselves are not too much of a burden for the teams – then even the most sincere intentions are not enough to perform them regularly. So how to deal with the additional tasks?

First of all, maximum simplification and automation should be our goal. To this end, it is worthwhile to look at the process and the measures, whether or not they are all relevant to us.  Then it’s worth checking the tools and the possibility of automating them (here both mailing systems such as Mailchimp or GetResponse, but also platforms supporting the creation of automation such as Zapier or IFTTT will be helpful), and finally make sure that all other activities have checklists, templates and examples (in order to simplify and optimize the time needed for the study).

 

If you are interested in the subject of research optimization, you should check out ResearchOps, an area responsible for simplifying and scaling up research processes to make them accessible to a larger group of people. More about it can be found in the Nielsen Norman Group publications under this and that link.


What next? Collecting data is one thing, but…

Once we have developed the process and tools within the organization and successfully began to regularly survey our customers, the first step is over – we have real and up-to-date data. However, for this information to power our business and bring the expected results, the next step is to analyze and use it properly. But this is a different story that must be written by each organization on their own.

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Joanna Ostafin
Co-founder of Project: People, co-founder of the Krakow Design Initiative (KID), organizer of DesignWays Conf.

As a Lean UX Strategist, she deals with... disagreeing with her clients - she supports them in verifying ideas for new products, services or businesses. She helps them to move from "innovative idea" to "real product", validating the assumptions based on business and strategic competences, UX, UI, Service Design and Lean.

Sincerely in love with the Lean approach (Lean Startup & Lean UX & Lean UX & Lean UX Research). She believes in workshops and collective building of projects, solving problems and generating ideas.

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