Today’s businesses operate in an era of both significant challenge and significant advantage.
We now live in the era of “customer experience” where consumers expect your brand and your product to be seamlessly designed to their delight. This means that you not only have to have a better product, but now you need to beat competitors on brand and experience.
In exchange for customized products and experiences, consumers are willing to “help you help them” by offering something critical: information. Loyalty programs, CRM data, questionnaires, social media and web posts provide companies with enough customer data to “figure them out.” They’re shouting out with clues as to who they are and what they want.
By now, almost every sizeable firm (and even small businesses) understands the need for data and the potential to convert it to insight. The two problems I see every day in this area are diametrically-opposed.
1. The Data Desert: companies with little-to-no data and are desperate to acquire it.
2. The Data Ocean: companies with too much data and no way to prioritize, synthesize or integrate it into their current business plan.
Companies in The Desert come in many forms, but they all share the distinction of “starting late.” Many of these firms have simple business models, have close client relationships, have few competitors or operate in markets that are not fully developed. As a result, the ROI for doing research wasn’t previously there because those firms were so close to their customers already.
However, as the business landscape changed, customers have changed with it. Even strong legacy brands are vulnerable. The need for understanding customer motivations and behaviors is universal. However, firms in The Desert often make one of two mistakes: (1) they do nothing and operate as they have historically, or; (2) they attempt to do research on anything and everything in an effort to “catch up” without sufficient experience or a solid vision of what they need the research to accomplish.
Such firms attempt to avail themselves of do-it-yourself web services or software-only platforms without the benefit of guidance, only to find that their research lacks the breadth and analysis necessary to guide real change. And while the financial costs of self-executed platforms are certainly modest, the time and energy lost in such missteps can be costly. Customers continue to evolve and competitors continue to move ahead.
Firms in the Ocean have a unique predicament: they’re inundated. Data is everywhere. Unsure of what to trust or where to begin, the research team is juggling multiple groups with high demands, leaving little time to analyze and derive findings. Those adrift in The Ocean are not research novices and are not without direction; these firms are simply: (1) over-run with data; (2) time-poor, or; (3) both.
Ironically, people end up in The Ocean because they are experienced researchers. They know good research from bad, know various types of research and are often sought out for their advice. As a result, they are over-worked and under-staffed. Self-executed solutions are low-cost options but ultimately rob firms of valued professional time.
A Single-Provider Solution
There is an elegant solution to avoid being trapped in The Desert or stranded in the Ocean: find the right balance of help. Full-service firms provide thought leadership, experience and talent to run great programs and provide genuine added-value insight. Software-only solutions provide reduced operating costs. So which partner is the right move? Pick one that is both!
Only the most advanced research firms have the best of both worlds: speed and flexibility of software-heavy solutions plus industry-leading thought leadership. This combination ensures reliable research, supplies expert perspective with industry knowledge and provides integrated research support that will enable you to compete successfully.
Companies that use this hybrid solution will have better business results in less time and save more money without sacrificing complete control or the highest quality.
To find out more about Ipsos Loyalty’s approach to Customer Experience Measurement, click here to download an article.