Businesses are now being told to put their customers first and design products and services with a customer-centric lens. As quoted in The Economist, Harvard Business School Professor Thales Teixeira observes;
“By focusing on understanding in great detail what consumers’ needs are, what uses they have for the products sold to them and how their monetary, time and effort costs can be reduced.”
However, for many businesses they don’t have the time, know-how or budget to find out what their customers want or think. Some will try and solve this issue by doing their own market research or asking friends/family what they think. Whilst this may save time and money, is it really helping you get the right answers?
Market Research is not only an art but also a science. There is a reason why a whole industry has been built around asking the right questions. Now more than ever, it is so important to understand what your customers are thinking, feeling and how they are behaving. Even before Covid, technology was already having a significant impact on social and human behaviour. This has simply been elevated in the last 6 months.
As a research consultant and now Founder of Market Research platform Insights Exchange, I have regularly worked with clients that have come to us after trying to do their own customer research and not getting the results they wanted or simply not doing anything at all.
The consequences of ignoring your customers and putting your head in the sand can be significant. If you leave it too late to understand your customers or learn how their behaviour and attitudes are changing, you risk being left behind and it can be very hard to come back once your competitors get that jump start.
I recommend that if you feel you would like to really get to know your customers seek the services of a professional research specialist earlier instead of waiting too long. It could be the difference between a relationship of longevity between you and your customer or one that ends when the next better offer comes along.
When you ask your friends/family or immediate circle what they think of your product/ service, it’s a bit like The Emperor’s New Clothes – you only hear what people think they should tell you.
By not opening up your feedback channels to new audiences, there is a large portion of the population you are not hearing from that could become your new customers or target audience
By thinking you can do research yourself and save some money, you end up wasting time trying to learn how to put together a questionnaire, working out the right questions to ask, what to do with the data once you have got it and creating charts. This is taking you away from your core tasks and often ends in frustration.