Customer experience, customer-first, customer-centric, customer-focused. The shift in mindset from brand-focused marketing approaches to the predominance of the customer experience (CX) has been a powerful one and will continue to shape the way companies operate, innovate, and plan for growth. Not surprisingly, the intense focus on CX has been a driving force for change in the market research field as well. Now, more than ever, smart, strategic market research must function on two levels. In addition to bringing a deeper understanding of the customer experience to brand stakeholders, marketing research needs to deliver a positive experience to research participants. Here are four ways we believe 2018 market research trends will be influenced by this single-minded focus on CX. Ultimately, the most effective market research developments will be those that deliver deeper CX insights, while recognizing the role market research plays by being part of the customer experience itself.
1. Mobilized Conversations
We live in a truly mobile-first world. In 2018, market researchers will continue to maximize the potential of mobile communication to enhance CX learning opportunities. Look to see market research leveraging mobile apps to provide a more seamless interaction with participants. The use of voice-to-text capabilities will grow, eliciting richer feedback through a more natural, conversational experience.
2. Experience-Driven Methodology
The distinction between qualitative and quantitative is becoming less relevant. Market research needs to become more of a conversation between customers and brands, rather than a transaction. That means understanding what customers are thinking, feeling, and doing as well as why they’re having those experiences – not just one or the other in a single study. Designing research studies that are holistic in focus, shorter in duration, but richer in feedback will become the norm, regardless of methodology.
3. Enlightened Relationship-Building
Brand stakeholders are benefiting in multiple ways by building longer-term relationships with customers through market research experiences. The growing use of online communities, co-creation sessions, advisory panels, and longitudinal customer experience surveys are just a few of the ways that market research can serve the dual purpose of gathering customer feedback while enhancing the overall customer experience. There are also opportunities to glean insight by observing shifts in customer attitudes and behaviors over time among participants in these types of relationship-building research methodologies. Weaving customer transaction data with customer feedback is another way to maximize the potential of these research tools.
4. Making Metrics Meaningful
Advances in data visualization techniques have gone a long way toward making it easier for brand stakeholders to quickly grasp the implications of their customers’ experiences. Going beyond that, market researchers are being called to synthesize customer metrics from disparate sources into a more cohesive story. The value of measuring KPI’s and traditional metrics like brand awareness, satisfaction, NPS or employee engagement is in understanding the interdependence between them. In the coming year, market researchers should continue to leverage the power of advanced analytics, sophisticated benchmarking and industry norms, and the principles of behavioral economics to uncover deeper meaning from research metrics.
As market researchers, we need to always be asking ourselves how we can foster more meaningful communication between customers and brands. That involves everything from the tools we use to gather customer feedback, to the way we ask customers to share their stories, and how we interpret and deliver the impact their experiences have on a brand’s health. The reality is that customer experience is far more than the latest marketing buzzword. At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that matters.