Turning research to relationships: 3 important shifts in customer insight

Vision Critical’s CEO Scott Miller recently delivered a webinar on the future of market research for NewMR, an organization founded by industry expert Ray Poynter dedicated to the changing face of market research.

Scott focused his talk on three major trends that are informing the way successful organizations conceptualize the market research function, especially when it comes to its role in developing and improving customer relationships. Here’s a short recap.

Customers have higher expectations for their research experience

Customers are not comparing their research and survey experiences to other surveys anymore. Rather, customers are comparing every contact they have with your brand against the best-in-class companies. Not only do you have to compete for your customers’ time and attention, but you have to compete against the biggest, most powerful brands in the world.

As Scott put it, “people are starting to embrace the idea that marketing research can contribute or detract from the opinion that customers have about your brand.” Customers now expect highly personalized interactions at every point of their experience.

According to Scott, customers are also more aware of the value of the information they provide to you, as well as the risks attached to sharing that information. Customers now want to hear back from you and learn more about themselves through the information you collected from them. Using market research data to make the customer experience better is the new normal.

Market research has penetrated every corner of the organization

Companies that excel at market research are breaking down data silos and spreading the research function across organizations. The best market research provides a holistic view of the customer, rather than single data points for different areas of organizations.

Researchers are now expected to use information from across the organization to diagnose problems, explain solutions and enrich the customer experience. Scott explains: “It will be incumbent on the intelligence function to look at information across the company to find a specific point of information.” Big data gives market researchers access to insight unattainable before, but researchers must understand the holistic nature of that information and use it to break down data silos.

Researchers use insight to develop strong customer relationships

Scott shared that Vision Critical customers are beginning to see a fundamental change in the value of market research. As a recent study from Forrester Consulting shows, insight communities are now driving metrics like retention, revenue and lifetime customer value. The data acquired in market research still informs decisions, but the research process itself is now influencing metrics that the C-suite cares about.

The market research function today has to contend with the fact that insight communities and research techniques are now an integral part of the customer experience, just as much as the sales process or the customer service function.

“The research function has a role in customer experience, should influence it positively, therefore positively impacting the relationship between customers and brands,” Scott said.

The market research function is expanding

As Scott concludes in the webinar, the positive impact that market research is making across organizations is fundamentally changing its role. Instead of providing sporadic answers to questions from distinct departments using one-off surveys, market researchers are now the custodians of customer data, which they deploy according to the needs of the organization. An insight-driven organization understands the importance of cultivating great customer relationships and uses the research process as a way to develop and maintain them.

Watch the video below for a recording of Scott’s presentation.

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