By: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President
As you may know, the Q1-Q2 2016 GRIT report was recently released. I always look forward to learning what’s new and exciting in the market research world, and to gaining a deeper appreciation for our client’s perspective. With the most comprehensive sample to date–2,144 completed interviews and participants from 70 countries–this wave delivers an impressive examination of an industry in the process of reinventing itself.
As I was processing the breadth of information in the report, I glanced at a picture on my office wall. A colleague gave me a beautiful picture with the saying “Change of any sort, requires courage.” I frequently look at this picture for inspiration when dealing with personal and professional challenges, and honestly, some days it’s hard to look away!
There is no doubt the disruptive change the market research industry is experiencing requires courageous adjustments from both Research Buyers and Suppliers. ESOMAR recently presented the “Future of Market Research” webinar where they highlighted the necessity for a team-based approach. The case was made that in order to effectively communicate research findings and influence C-Suite decision makers, a multi-disciplinary approach is required. Weaving together a cohesive story and presenting it in a consultative fashion requires contribution not only from a researcher, but also from a data scientist, a synthesizer, a journalist, and an influential storyteller. This insights team needs to be comprised of creative individuals who are motivated by intellectual curiosity, have a desire to influence, and are comfortable working in a fast-paced, unstructured environment.
I’m confident the industry will successfully manage the human capital transition and adopt a more consultative role to drive positive, sustainable change. However, unless we have a comprehensive understanding of what influences consumers’ decisions and precisely why they choose one product or service over another, the impact of the Voice of Customer will be under-stated.
Online research communities deliver vibrant customer stories riddled with illuminating detail that provide contextual understanding. Unlike brand communities or social media, research communities offer an agile solution for developing a synergistic and mutually respectful relationship between customer and company.
As an example, when defectors in an ad hoc Exit Survey were asked the reason for leaving a health plan, cost was the primary reason year after year. However, when exploring potential defection with members of the client’s research community, when cost was comparable, members’ experience with customer support and their emotional attachment to the company played a much larger role in their decision to change carriers. The ongoing, two-way dialogue inherent in a research community enables the customer relationship to be transformed from survey taker to trusted advisor.
It takes courage to build this type of relationship with customers and it takes courage to put legacy systems behind us. The market research industry has a history of making courageous adjustments to consumers’ changing habits and demands of the marketplace. I have another picture on my wall–“When nothing is certain, everything is possible.”