Last week we were asked by the CEO of one of our clients, 'how can you be certain that you will deliver the insights and business outcomes we need?' It's a great question and one we get asked a lot.
We believe that customer experience is crucial, and that qualitative research is key to understanding customer behaviour. Quantitative data can give you a broad view of customer sentiment, but it doesn't provide the in-depth understanding needed to make real changes to your customer experience.
Qualitative research involves talking to customers in depth about their experiences and feelings. This type of research is essential for understanding customer needs and pain points, and for developing empathy with your customer base.
Through qualitative research, you can obtain detailed feedback that can be used to improve your customer experience. Often senior leaders overlook the power of qualitative research methods in a world that is so focused on quantitative research and quantitative methods. Customer feedback provides the richest source of insights into customer behaviour.
Qualitative research should be used alongside quantitative data to get a complete view of customer sentiment. When used together, these two types of research provide a powerful toolkit for understanding customer experience and developing strategies for improving it.
Understanding customer experience management
It's part science, part innovation, part tangible and part intangible. If you want to improve your customer experience, then qualitative research should be a key part of your research strategy.
Qualitative research can help you to:
- Understand customer needs and pain points
- Develop empathy with your customer base
- Improve your customer experience
What are effective Qualitative Research Methods?
The effectiveness of a qualitative research method is measured by how well it analyses the customer journey from an initial interaction right through to customer satisfaction and support. A customer's journey is unique to them, so it's important to understand all the different touchpoints that they have with your organisation.
There are a number of different qualitative research methods that can be used in customer experience management, including:
- In-depth interviews
- Focus groups
- Ethnographic research
- Observational research
- Market research
So how do you understand and deliver the best outcome for Customers, Staff and the Organisation all at the same time?
How should you structure your qualitative research?
If your data is structured around general curiosity you will not maximise the outcomes of the data collection. Your qualitative research should be conducted to improve your customer experience strategy. An effective way to do this is by using a Customer Thinking Diamond.
The Customer Thinking Diamond
The Customer Thinking Diamond is effective in collecting customer feedback and understanding customer behaviour. It's based on the idea that customer thinking goes through four distinct stages:
- What am I trying to do?
- What are my options?
- What did I just do?
- How do I feel about it?
Qualitative data analysis of these customer thinking stages can be run by your business with the help of a customer experience team, like Proto Partners. We would get you to think about your current customer experience strategy using four different lenses - Outside-in, Inside-out, Bottom-up and Top-down.
An outside-in approach
First, you must understand what it is that your customers want. This customer-centric approach starts with your customer and works its way back to you. It's all about understanding customer needs and pain points and developing empathy with your customer base.
An inside-out approach
Second, you need to understand what it is that you want from your customers. This organisation-centric approach starts with you and works its way out to your customers. It's all about understanding your business goals and objectives, and how your customer experience can help you to achieve them.
A bottom-up approach
Third, you need to understand what it is that your employees want. This team-centric approach starts with your employees and works its way up to you. It's all about understanding employee needs and pain points, and how your customer experience can help to improve employee satisfaction. This means investing in internal innovation and solutions that address both staff and customer needs.
A top-down approach
Fourth, you need to understand what it is that your senior leaders want. This leadership-centric approach starts with your senior leaders and works its way down to you. It's all about using the experience of senior leaders to understand organisational goals and objectives, and how your customer experience can help to achieve them.
Once you've considered all four approaches, you'll have a much better understanding of your existing customer experience and what it takes to create a positive customer experience. Qualitative methods will be key to achieving this goal.
What's the difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research?
So what if you could find a way that combined all four approaches into one plan for customer relationship management?
What your customer experience strategy could do for customer satisfaction
A customer experience strategy is not about individual touchpoints; it's about how all of the touchpoints work together. Successful customer experience management:
- Contains all things that really add value to customers and nothing that doesn't
- Leverages the internal expertise and efficiencies to limit risks and mistakes and maximise efficiency and margin
- Leverages all the insight from customer-facing staff and operations teams to ensure whatever was produced was workable and scalable
- Contains the experience and judgement of senior management to ensure all energies were directed to achieving the stated annual and 3-year strategy and KPI’s
Not only do the customers benefit from this qualitative data collection, but you do as well! You will grow your business, improve brand loyalty and increase revenue.
Qualitative methods are key to customer experience success:
- They help us to understand the customer's needs and pain points
- They help us to understand how customers interact with our products and services
- They help us to understand customer emotions and experiences.
So what's not to like about an approach that can achieve all of the above?
If you would like to download the Worksheet just click here and your employees can become qualitative researchers. Using this approach will help you frame how you will:
- Gain Confidence in the right business drivers to accelerate growth
- Ensure your team is aligned around the right outcomes
- Improve Customer Experience along the end to end journey
- Gain traction quicker on the most important things, with less friction
If you would like to more about how to help your stakeholders understand today so you can grow tomorrow, we can readily show you how we have used this approach with great success with other clients.Download Structured Customer Understanding Worksheet